The CONCERTed offering 1994

CFAMC: An Exciting New Organization for Composers

Support from the Christian community for composers of church music and other Christian commercial music, both historically and currently, is a well-documented fact. Certainly, much of the history of Western music revolves around music for worship. And that support is completely appropriate, given the scriptural mandates of both the Old and New Testaments to “sing unto the Lord”. But Western music history is also filled with stories of comitted Christian composers glorifying the Lord Jesus with serious concert works (the terms “concert music”, “art music” and/or “serious music”, with all their shortcomings, are preferred to “classical” in order to distinguish music from the late eighteenth century). The best and most frequently cited example is J.S. Bach, who apparently made little if any distinction between “sacred” and “secular” in his compositions. The twentieth century has also seen a number of prominent composers for whom the complexities of serious concert works seemed necessary to express the most profound aspects of God’s nature and work: Igor Stravinsky and Olivier Messiaen are fine examples, as are Benjamin Britten and Charles Ives (although the Christian orthodoxy of the latter two remain somewhat in question). Yet, amazingly, in the evangelical community’s search for every possible gospel opportunity, no organization has stepped forward to encourage the activities of late twentieth-century Christian composers who have been called to glorify the Lord Jesus and build His kingdom through symphonies, chamber music, operas and other serious concert works. With this newsletter, that organization has finally arrived.

The Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers seeks to rectify the imbalance of musical support from the Christian community. For years, well-known evangelical authors have been addressing the general lack of Christian support for serious art and culture. Francis, Franky (Frank) and Edith Schaeffer, Leland Ryken, Frank Gaebelein, Harold Best and others have written books and articles about the Biblical mandate for artistic quality in the evangelical community (refer to “Recommended Reading” elsewhere in this newsletter). CFAMC hopes to provide a non-denominational forum for information and dialogue about activities in art music composition by professing Christian composers, as well as professional support for its members. Initial member services will include this quarterly newsletter (“The CONCERTed offering” – see related story in this issue), as well as periodic conferences (see related story elsewhere in this newsletter). In short, CFAMC will strive to be a place for evangelical concert composers to come together to discuss the joys and disappointments, the issues and struggles of bringing their work and witness as redeemed creative individuals to the art music world. Although the Fellowship will be geared to college (undergraduate and higher) and professional composers, all interested parties are welcome. We invite you to consider being a part of this exciting venture.

Recommended Reading

“The Christian, the Arts and the Truth: Regaining the Vision of Greatness”, by Frank Gaebelein, Multnomah Press, 1985.