ITS NOT TOO EARLY to renew your CFAMC membership for 1998! Calendar year dues for 1998 are due by January 1, 1998. Sending your $25 ($15 for students and non-composer performers) today will guarantee that you wont miss out on any exciting CFAMC news or opportunities (please see the announcement of the new dues structure elsewhere in this newsletter). Make checks payable to CFAMC and send to CFAMC, Dr. Mark Hijleh, School of Music, Houghton College, Houghton NY 14744. Your dues may be tax deductible as professional musical expenses; however, dues and contributions are not yet tax deductible as charitable contributions.
Conference ’97 and ’98
The 1997 CFAMC Conference in Bowling Green Ohio September 19-20 was a wonderful success spiritually and musically. Special thanks goes to Don Wilson and Rick Harris for all their hard work in arranging for meeting places, meals, transportation, and performances. As we have come to expect (but not take for granted!) the Holy Spirit was indeed among us during our prayers, fellowship times, discussions, and music-making.
Both Friday and Saturday mornings began with panel discussions which focused on issues of how God works through Christian composers and their music. A special presentation on Friday from Honorary CFAMC member Greg Nelson was also quite stimulating. Greg pointed out that, as distasteful as it might seem to some, we Christian art music composers must also be our own promoters in this world. He used as his model in this regard the composer G.F. Handel, who, in addtion to being an outspoken Christian personally and musically, was also a tireless entrepreneur of his own music. Greg also admonished us to “think big” when praying over and planning our compositional and ministerial activities. On Saturday, Christian composer and computer expert Peter Terry demonstrated some newer technologies which might be used to compose more interactive musical works. And, as in past conferences, much time was spent sharing compositions with one another.
A concert of members’ works on the Bowling Green State University campus provided a fitting and successful conclusion to the conference. Included on the program were Bacchanai and The Disciple Variations for organ by Wallace DePue, Tenebrae Factae Sunt for alto, tenor, and baritone by Greg Scheer, Meditation and Fanfare for organ by Jason Bahr, “Darkness and light are alike to Thee” for string sextet by Andrew Dionne, Five Haiku for tenor and piano by Donald Wilson, “…a chasing after the wind…” for alto flute and piano by Frank Felice, “Alone” for tenor and piano by Warren Gooch, and Variations and Chorale for brass quintet by Rick Cerchia. Excellent performances of these works were given by faculty and students from BGSU and other area institutions.
During an informal business meeting, CFAMC members attending the conference discussed several issues of importance to the future of the Fellowship. The idea of incorporating CFAMC as a non-profit organization enjoyed strong support. An executive committee consisting of Mark Hijleh, Greg Scheer, Frank Felice, David Parker, Mark Chambers, and advisor George Bell was formed to explore that and other issues over the coming months. As of this writing, the committee is taking steps to incorporate the Fellowship as a non-profit ministry in NewYork. Of particular importance to current and future participants is that such incorporation and application for tax-exempt status will allow monetary gifts to CFAMC to become tax deductible as charitable contributions. Currently, membership dues are deductible only as a professional expense to members. We were recently informed that CFAMC does NOT enjoy the tax-exempt status of Houghton College, as we previously supposed. More information will be sent to current members as plans take shape.
We are also pleased to announce that the next CFAMC national conference will take place July 10-11, 1998 on the Houghton College campus as part of the second annual Christian Performing Artists Fellowship MasterWorks Festival (June 21-July 19). A student composers program will run as part of the Festival from June 28 through July 11, culminating with an appearance by special guest and Honorary CFAMC member Charles Wuorinen during the CFAMC conference weekend. More details about these exciting events will soon be forthcoming!
News of Note: Acitivities of CFAMC Composers
GREG PASCUZZI recently composed an overture for big band and orchestra which was performed by the Army Jazz Ambassadors and the Detroit Symphony. He also worked with the New English Orchestra (a European Christian group) in Salzburg, Austria.
FRANK FELICE’S Passage was premiered by the Lamar University Symphonic Band on October 7th.
WARREN GOOCH’S The Stones Speak of Eternity was premiered in April by the Truman State University Wind Symphony. His three choral works Three Reflections from the Psalms , The Piper , and Teach Me the Way of Thy Word were recently published by Alliance Publications, Inc. Finally, Gooch’s orchestral pieceClockwork , performed by the Slovak Radio Orchestra under Robert Black, was released on compact disc by MMC recordings, Ltd.
LARRY WARKENTIN has received a 1997 ASCAP award for composition.
WILLIAM ALLEN performed in a recital of his compositions at the Houghton Wesleyan Church in
Houghton, NY in September. Works for piano solo, piano duet, and organ included Glimpses of Narnia and The Domestic Clavier . Proceeds from the concert were donated to the church’s organ fund.
JOSEPH RIVERS’ ballet The Exile’s Return was premiered in February and March by the Mid-Illinois Ballet, choreographed by Kenneth Bello, and the University of Tulsa Orchestra, in Tulsa, OK.
KELLY WHITWORTH’S first sacred choral work, Kneel, for SATB choir, organ, two flutes and percussion was premiered in the spring.
Responses to Patrick Kavanaugh’s “Does Godliness Equal Tonality?!”
(for the original article, see the CONCERTed offering, vol.4, Summer 97)
From Gabriel Willey:
As a post-evangelical Christian, and a post-modern composer, I have several problems with Mr. Kavanaughs reasoning in his article Does Godliness equal Tonality?! (CONCERTed offering vol.4 summer 97). Philosophically, I must point out the flaws in his apparent assumption that innovation is inherently better than being conservative (does he mean perpetuating the past, or does he mean building on the past reshaping it to make it relevant to the present), and that being innovativeautomatically makes one a leader. A look at the composers of the twentieth-century that have retained their popularity with audiences, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Copland, Bernstein, Britten, Vaughan Williams (there have been nearly a dozen recordings of his complete symphonies in the past decade and there is currently a plan underway to record all of his operas), Hovhaness, the new holy minimalists like Tavener, Gorecki, and Part, and the ever-great early and middle Stravinsky, easily shows that great music is both accessible and innovative. The same could be said for the masters of the past. Bach was considered too conservative by his contemporaries, Beethoven never fully gave up the tonal and formal precedents of his predecessors and contemporaries, and the list goes on and on…until the experimenters and innovators of the twentieth-century, who, tried to become gods by trying to recreate the whole concept of music, instead of simply paraphrasing what God the Original Creator has already given. Let me illustrate. Music is, like all art, communication. Someone who is attempting to communicate something through spoken language must speak in the language understood by his listener. He may introduce new words, idioms-or even borrow words from another language-IN THE CONTEXT OF THE LANGUAGE he is speaking, in order to better state what he is saying, but he can not invent an entire new language, nor reinvent all the rules of linguistics, without completely losing his listener. Now one may say But the listener will understand if I teach them my new language. I agree. However, listening to your music will then become an intellectual exercise for the listener, and never, or rarely, an aesthetic experience. Think about it! When we get together to discuss innovative music do we not discuss its techniques and not its more abstract qualities? I can hear it now: I like the way the composer used such and such a tone cluster, What an interesting texture, or What an original way to use such and such an instrument. All this means absolutely nothing to an audience unless they can give it meaning. This, of course, raises many other issues which perhaps I will address in a further letter.
Now many will still say that innovation is still better-look how innovation in technology has bettered the world. I say, for every problem that technology fixes it creates ten new ones. The world is certainly not a better place because of human innovations, its as bad as its ever been and probably worse. To those who are still deluded with visions of progressive grandeur, you are a dying breed. I was born in 1976, the first of Generation X, and in one year I will be graduating from college. In a matter of a few decades my generation will be in control of Western society, and we are realists and fatalists. We do not buy into the ultra-Romantic (indeed the twentieth-century is truly the Romantic era gone berserk), Modern (I mean post-Enlightenment) ideals of progressivism, optimism, pragmatism, individualism (hence the belief in the existence and inherent superiority of creative genii). In fact we are the first generation since the beginning of the Modern era to be disillusioned with the progressivism of our parents, and not to think them not progressive enough. As the popular song goes, this is the end of the innocence. We want mature answers and stability, not childish optimism and ideals. Ive said all this to point out that Mr. Kavanaughs assumption that innovative composers are inherently better is an idea that is quickly going out of fashion (therefore major conservatories will not be clamoring to get such composers on their faculties-and what does that prove anyway, especially to God?). This idea, I argue, will not produce a major artistic flowering either. Most art historians would agree that the Renaissance-Baroque was the highest point in Western artistic achievement to date anyway. Guess what: these artists were attempting to recreate the past with the aim of making it applicable to their contemporaries; in fact, renaissance means rebirth. As a post-evangelical, perhaps anti-evangelical, Christian I must take issue with Mr. Kavanaughs assumption that Christian composers winning people to Christ with their superior talents is a good thing. People will become Christians in order to be better composers, musicians, etc., and not because they realize that they are wicked sinners in need of Gods grace through the blood of Christ. Such converts are not true converts. God has given us talent as composers so that we may come in contact with other composers and musicians in order to tell em like it is, to show them the almighty wrath of God on their sinful lives, and then to show them that there is way out through the saving blood of Christ sacrificed in love. A God that makes you better at what you do is no God at all, it is a god we have made in our own image. This kind of god offers no Gospel at all, this kind of gospel has no saving power at all. Dont for one minute believe that another composer will listen to the Gospel more, or even believe it, just because you are a great, or innovative, composer. Only the Holy Spirit can bring conviction and regeneration, we can not convince anyone to make a decision for Christ. Our sole responsibility is to present the Truth, and may we seize every opportunity to do so. Kyrie eleison.
From Mark Chambers:
It was with great interest that I read Mr. Kavanaugh’s editorial in the last newsletter. He raised some very good points, one being the comment that we as Christian composers should not write modern music for the sake of being modern. It is on this point that I should like to base my disagreements with Mr. Kavanaugh. Mr. Kavanaugh’s argument is based on the premise that Christian composers have not been on the cutting-edge of modern music and have stayed mainly within the confines of traditional tonality and conservatism in art music. Therefore Christian composers have not been innovative, or modern, enough. For a Christian composer, or non-believer for that matter, to be innovative there must be a conscious effort to break down tonal (i.e. conservative) barriers and therefore become modern in his or her writing. At the beginning of this century if someone writing music were truly exploring all of the sonorous possibilities then they would not be writing modern music for the sake of creativity and not being modern. But at this time in history (I’m sure Ill catch heat for this one) one cannot be truly modern and innovative for I believe that all of the possible sonorities, rhythms, timbres, etc. have been done. All any of us are doing now is rewriting what has already been written. This isn’t a bad thing and I don’t think composers should hang up there hats. Music is a communication and we as Christian composers have the ultimate message to communicate. As Ralph Vaughan Williams said in response to the question of why he wasn’t writing modern music What is wrong with saying something old as long as it is said at the right time (paraphrase).
It must be clear that I am not advocating Christian composers write nothing but syrupy sweet music. Our music be honest and engaging, yet it must be listenable. I believe that one of the reasons why modern music performances have declined in the recent past is because we as composers have basically shot ourselves in the foot for far to long. We have burned to many pianos, banged on to many cans, and turned on to many radios to where we have isolated our audiences so much that they have decided not to return to the concert hall. If we as Christians have the responsibility to communicate Gods truths to the world then we must make ourselves available to the world. Again, do not think I am advocating the kind of popular formulaic music that has pervaded the Christian music industry. I am instead calling for Christian composers to write music of the highest caliber and discipline. If we want to compare ourselves to our secular colleagues (which I am not so sure we should do) then we should note that today’s leading composers are quasi-tonal if not outright tonal. Composers such as Harbison, Danielpour, Gorecki, are all in this camp. Even Mr. Penderecki has gone the way of the neo-Romantic.
Innovation has already been done enough in the 20th century. How about a little discipline and control over our element rather than trying to be the next NEW thing? May God bless us all in what
From Larry Warkentin:
Patrick Kavanaugh’s article is appropriately challenging for composers of Christian art music. In a very few words he covered some very wide territory and, while I agree with much of what he says, I feel that he puts too much weight on dissonance as an indicator of creativity. I would like to see John Adams and Phillip Glass suggested as composers whose styles might prove productive for Christian composers. And I would suggest that Charles Ives should be explored as the prototype for all American Christian composers.
From Kevin Lowther:
I offer my opinion for your consideration as a novice writer/arranger and lay director of a church instrumental ensemble. First, music in our church is performed both by professional musicians and appointed lay musicians. There are only a few truly advanced players that would be comfortable with difficult harmonies and modern pieces. However, the music selection process is actually very open; soloists may select music at their discretion.
There are a number of audiences and functions that the music must serve. Pieces which are not consistent with the praise, prayer, or contemplative aspects of the service do “stick out”. On the other hand, pieces which (technically and musically) must be performed by professional musicians and which also move congregants aesthetically and spiritually toward worship are also credible. I feel that there are such pieces as the latter in the organ repertoire which are never questioned by our classically-leaning congregation.
The ability of the music to motivate, as well as its accessibility to performers and listeners, is integral to its success in participatory worship. If the piece is strictly a “concert work”, then the question which must be asked is: “What is the spiritual value of attending a performance of an inspired work by an accomplished Christian composer outside of worship?” Should we risk alienation of a selected group in order to inspire another? Sometimes, the answer is yes, as in the shepherd finding the one lost sheep.
We cannot always “play it safe”, as the worker who buried his talent did, much to the displeasure of his master. Perhaps, like the parables of Christ, the answer to “inaccessible harmonies” will be like that of other mysteries, “…so that ‘seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand, lest they should turn and their sins be forgiven them (Mark 4:12).”
From Charles Wuorinen:
I was delighted to see the Kavanuagh piece because it addressed a concern I have had for a long time: How can the Church, which has been the inspirer and supporter of the greatest western art and music, have become so provincial, insular, and benighted during the past two centuries about these areas? Why (as the author asked) must the most regressive and simplistic music of today serve the liturgical function? Notice here that I am talking about what you style “art music” — certainly not such vibrant expressions of faith as Gospel music. Why do composers of liturgical music today treat their congregations as customers (perhaps because so often the clergy do?) rather than co-communicants and therefore fellow-offerers of the best of everything — in this case music?
I recognize that these rhetorical questions are easierto ask than to answer. But if we do not aspire to the highest in our art, rather than the lowest, how can we honestly say that we are offering (in our own infinitesimal smallness) our best to the Divinity?
[Editor’s note: I am deeply gratified to see such a response to my call for dialogue on Pat’s article. Let’s keep this up, broadening it to the many issues we struggle with as Christians and composers!]
Welcome New Members!
JASON BAHR is persuing the M.M. in composition at Indiana University. He can be reached at 222 W. 2nd, #14, Bloomington IN 47403, (812)334-8430, *protected email*.
GEORGE BELL is a minister,composer, and certified poetry therapist. His contact information is 1711 Fox Run, Perrysburg OH 43551, (419)874-9001, *protected email*.
DAVID BRIDGES can be reached at McKendree United Methodist Church, 523 Church St., Nashville TN 37219, (615)271-2610, fax: (615)271-2607.
WALLACE DePUE is on the composition faculty at Bowling Green State University. His contact information is 5 Picardie Ct., Bowling Green OH 43402, (419)352-4372.
FREDERICK FRAHM hails from 1707 Grovehurst Dr., Alpharetta GA 30022, (770)772-2041, *protected email*.
JOHN RICHARD serves as graduate teaching assistant in theoy at Butler University, where he is currently completing a M.M. in composition. He can be reached at 23980 Reigle Rd., Deshler OH 43516, (419)278-2143, *protected email*.
G. EVAN ROBINETTE can be contacted at *protected email*.
DAVID SEABAUGH is composition major at Truman State University in Kirksville MO. He can be reached at 125 Harmony Ln., Macomb IL 61455, (309)833-1739.
LES WALL is a church musician who may be contacted at 5858 Yarmouth Ave., Toledo OH 43623, (419)475-3886.
LARRY WARKENTIN is Chair of the music department at Fresno Pacific University, 1717 S. Chestnut, Fresno CA 93702, (209)251-8053, *protected email*.
KELLY WHITWORTH holds a B.A. in theory/composition from Wheaton College (IL), and a B.M. in film scoring from Berklee College of Music. She can be reached at 728 E. 8th St., #2, South Boston MA 02127, (617)464-7993, *protected email*.
New Dues Structure for 1998
The CFAMC Executive Committee recently agreed to raise dues for regular members to $25 per year beginning with 1998. Students and non-composer performers may join or continue membership for $15 per year. The rise in regular dues reflects a rise in 1998 administrative costs, particularly the costs of incorporation paperwork, business and legal advice. The Committee is also investigating the possibility of offering institutional memberships in the future.
Members are advised that dues and contributions may be tax deductible as professional music expenses, but are not tax deductible as charitable contributions (CFAMC does not yet enjoy 501c(3) charity status from the IRS). Please consult your tax advisor on this matter.
We covet your prayers as we seek to put CFAMC on a firm financial and legal foundation. Praise the Lord for His grace to us in providing for our needs and giving us the exciting work of “singing a new song” unto Him!
The Pealing Chord is a hymn and choral music library designed to promote and deepen worship: by inspiring and nourishing the creation of new religious music, verse, prose, and plans; by providing resources for compilers and adapters; and by assisting seminary professors, local clergy, and choir leaders. CFAMC members have been invited to submit hymns and scared choral music for placement in the library. The Pealing Chord will also buy single copies of your music, if commercially available. However, all submissions will be “public domain” in the sense that they may be distributed to library users without further charge. We encourage you to contact the organizers of the Pealing Chord for further information before submitting any items. Contact David Whitney at 8 Ellen Drive K.T., Wyoming PA 18644, (717)696-2218.
Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy , by Robert Jourdain (William Morrow and Co., 1997)
Although not a Christian work, Jourdain’s volume is a wonderful examination of the mysteries of how we listen to and compose music. In the latter part of the book, the author offers theories on how we derive meaning and enjoyment from musical listening. Certainly Christian believers will not agree with many of Jourdain’s premises, but may enjoy the fascinating discussions of how the human brain processes musical sound: evidence of God’s handiwork!
From the Editor:
I have been freshly stricken by a very familiar verse of Scripture: “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10a). Of course, the oft-repeated dictums about our busy late-twentieth-century lifestyles come to mind, but I have heard another more specific word from the Lord: Being still involves being patient. And one of the things that irritates many people about art music (especially new music) is the patience required of them to listen to it. It doesn’t tend to provide instant gratification. Being in God’s presence involves concentration. Now, I’m not about to equate listening to art music with being in the Lord’s presence, but I am saying that the discipline of active, participatory listening to art music can be related to the discipline of listening to the Holy Spirit. In both cases, we must be still, lest the content pass unnoticed. I also think that is why some of the greatest Western art music traditions have sprung from the Church: God can use our concentrated musical listening for His purposes. As we write, let us be still and listen to God. And let us encourage those who listen to our music to do the same.
1997 Conference Set
Thanks to the work of members Don Wilson and Rick Harris, CFAMC is excited to present its Third Annual Conference, September 19-20, 1997, in Bowling Green, OH. All members are encouraged to attend. There will be plenty of time for both formal and informal discussion and fellowship (including peer review sessions), prayer, presentations, a concert of members’ works, a session for discussion of the future activities of CFAMC, and a trip to historic Grand Rapids, Ohio for dinner and sunset. Located on the banks of the Maumee river, points of interest in Grand Rapids include a restored section of the famous Erie Canal and a water powered sawmill. A fact sheet with information on hotels, meals, transportation, and a tentative conference schedule will be sent to all members in early July.
SUBMISSION PROCEDURES: Submissions for consideration in the conference concert should include for each work: two copies of the full score, A SET OF PLAYERS’ PARTS, a tape recording (if available), and a short written discussion of the compositional, aesthetic, and philosophical aspects of the work. Works should be limited to 10 minutes duration. Please send compositions of any instrumentation; Bowling Green has talented vocalists and performers of all traditional orchestral instruments as well as organ, harpsichord, guitar, and other less commonly played instruments. Works involving computer-generated sounds or electronic music are also welcome. Selection of works to be included will be made by Bowling Green performers in conjunction with a panel of CFAMC members (decisions are final). Please bear in mind that we are looking for concert art music, appropriate for presentation at college and professional recitals and chamber concerts. A self-addressed envelope of adequate size with sufficient postage will be required for the return of materials submitted. Composers may choose to donate these materials to the CFAMC Library by omitting the SASE. Contributors agree to absolve CFAMC of any liability for lost or mutilated materials. Composers whose works are chosen must be in attendance for the entire conference and available for a possible panel discussion. ALL SUBMISSIONS MUST BE RECEIVED BY AUGUST 1, 1997. We apologize deeply for the hastiness of this deadline and hope that all who wish to participate in the submission are able to. Earlier submissions are encouraged to facilitate conference planning. Please send materials to: Dr. Donald Wilson, School of Music, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH
Welcome New Members!
LINDA BECKMAN teaches in the music department of John Brown University, 2000 W. Tahlequah St., Siloam Springs AR 72761,(501)524-8084, *protected email*.
JOHN JOSEPH MORTENSEN is a member of the music faculty at Cedarville College, Dept. of Music, P.O. Box 601 Cedarville OH 45314-0601, (937)766-7734, fax: (937)766-7661, *protected email*.
KENNETH JOHNSON teaches a variety of musical subjects at Colorado Christian University. He can be reached at 180 S. Garrison, Lakewood CO 80226, (303)238-5386.
News of Note: Activities of CFAMC Members
MARK HIJLEH has received a 1997 ASCAP Special Award for composition, his third since 1995. (A number of our members no doubt receive this award annually. Keep us informed of who you are!)
SCOTT ROBINSON’S “Three Choruses” from The Way of Heaven (A Dance Oratorio) was premiered in May by the University of Minnesota Chamber Singers. Scott is also currently writing an article on art music and the Church for Sojourners magazine.
GAYLORD TAYLOR’S anthem “Little Child, Why Is It So?” was performed last December by the First Baptist Church Choir of Cuba, NY.
The slow movement from MICHAEL YOUNG’S Symphony #1 (“A Mountain Symphony”) was performed and recorded in April by the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, in West Seattle, WA.
Does Godliness equal Tonality?!
by Patrick Kavanaugh, Executive Director, Christian Performing Artists Fellowship
A disturbing factor in contemporary art music has recently been brought to my attention. It would seem that many of the Christian composers who are writing serious music tend to be rather conservative in their musical vocabulary. Compared to those secular composers on the cutting edge of innovative techniques available today, the Christians are often lagging decades behind.
For three years I was asked to be on the composers panel of the National Endowment of the Arts. This panel studied hundreds of submitted compositions, for the purpose of awarding grants to individual composers. It soon became obvious to all of us that the works which used sacred texts were consistently more traditional than the other submitted compositions. Whether these were actually composed by Christians or not, we, of course, had no idea. But the linking of sacred text with conservative music was immutable. This phenomenon was not simply an isolated case, as it was noted each of the three years.
Certainly all generalizations have exceptions, and this one does as well. We can immediately think of Charles Wuorinen or Krzysztof Penderecki, who are both Christian men and very innovative composers. Nevertheless, the music of most Christian art music composers – especially those who work at churches or Christian colleges – is often more conservative than Stravinsky’s or Schoenberg’s work of fifty years ago.
Why is this? Do we really think that God is offended by dissonance, or complex rhythms, or microtones? Does Biblical text only work with tonal music? Do we subconsciously associate red devils with dissonance and lovely angels with consonance?
Perhaps part of the problem is with the Christian church as our audience. For example, let us imagine a unbelieving composer who works at a New York City music department. When he premieres a new work, he knows that his audience is quite sophisticated and would probably not be fazed by whatever wildness he could create. Consider the contrast of a Christian composer who works as a Minister of Music in a small town church. If his friends (who would regard even The Rite of Spring as outrageous) ever hear his music, it had better be in the key of C major and stay there!
Most of us have felt such pressure at some time or other. Nevertheless, the Christian composer is under no Scriptural obligation to be musically conservative. The Bible teaches us to flee immorality, but not innovation! On the contrary, if we truly believe that we are inspired by the ultimate creative force in the universe, then we should be leading the way for the secular composers to later imitate.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if Christian composers had such a reputation for their bold innovations that the major conservatories were all clamoring to get believers on their faculties? That such a fantasy makes us smile illustrates how far it is from reality. Yet this is the challenge for the Christian composer who wants to have an impact for Christ on the musical world.
This is not to say that we should artificially attempt to be “modern for modern’s sake.” Certainly every composer needs to compose with integrity that which is within him. But it does mean that we should never shy away from innovation for fear of offending those dear believing friends who are musically ignorant. How can we possibly expect to be taken seriously by the world – whom God has called us to reach – if we limit our musical style to only the specific needs of a Sunday morning service?
At the Last Supper with his disciples, Jesus prayed to the Father, “As you sent me into the world, so I send them into the world.” (Jn. 17:18) Christian composers are also musical missionaries, who must speak the language of those to whom we are sent. Let us seek to compose so creatively that the world will not only see us as interesting, but will be attracted enough to want to know from where such creativity originates.
From the Editor
The meditation by Pat Kavanaugh elsewhere in this issue will no doubt elicit strong reactions from some of you. A few may even write letters of response. I can only hope so, because that kind of interaction is an integral part of what I envisioned when the Lord allowed me to found this fellowship. Rest assured that, if a vigorous dialogue should develop, we will print it all right in these pages! Among Christians there are surely times for agreement and times for debate. If we were all the same (musically or otherwise), how boring our fellowship would be! No, we are (to paraphrase Paul) one musical body with many different parts, each contributing a crucial function to the good of the whole. And, as you no doubt have gathered from my musings, I often fear that the Body as a whole views we art music composers as annoying appendages to be (at best) surgically reformed into something more “useful” or (at worst) simply cut off. Some of the most crucial parts of our physical bodies can be awfully strange to behold. Is it possible that Paul’s analogy in God’s Word goes a bit farther than we like to think?
Honorary Members of Note!
The Lord continues to encourage us in the work and witness of CFAMC. In recent months, Charles Wuorinen (Pulitzer Prize for Composition, 1970), George Tsontakis (Composer-in-residence at the Aspen Music Festival), and Greg Nelson (Christian music producer for such artists as Sandi Patti, and a classical ‘cellist and composer) have been named Honorary Members of our Fellowship. These Christian brothers in high places of musical authority have all shared that they are interested in and recognize the urgent need for the work of CFAMC. We praise the Lord that they have joined with us to glorify Christ through encouraging the work and witness of Christian art music composers. See also the “Opportunity” item related to Greg Nelson elsewhere in this issue.
In other news, an executive decision has been made to delay publicity on the 1998 CFAMC scholarship until late summer 1997. Details will appear in the Summer ’97 “CONCERTed offering”, and a general publicity campaign launched in late August. The deadline for applications will be November 15, 1997. Please do not send or sponsor applications until detailed application procedures have been published, but DO encourage your students and colleagues to be preparing for this exciting opportunity! Also, April 1998 is the target date for the first annual CFAMC New Music Month. Again, publicity will appear in the Summer ’97 newsletter and thereafter.
1997 Conference Planned!
The CFAMC leadership team is planning a national conference for September 19-20, 1997, in Bowling Green, Ohio. Rick Harris and Donald Wilson of Bowling Green State University will be our hosts. Detailed information will be sent to members as soon as it is available. Please be in prayer concerning this important yearly event in the Fellowship.
News of Note – Activities of CFAMC Members…
RICK DREHMER’S Baby Sleeps, Baby Dreams for piano was performed by MARK HIJLEH at a Houghton College faculty recital in January. Hijleh also conducted GREG SCHEER’S choral anthem Bread of the World at Houghton Wesleyan Church in March.
WALTER SAUL has been commissioned by the Quincy Symphony Orchestra in Illinois to write an overture celebrating the orchestra’s 50th anniversary. The work will be given its world premiere in April, 1998.
WILLIAM ALLEN’S Fantasy and Fugue on Puer Nobis was performed by organist Daniel Fortune in Buffalo, NY in January. Also, the composer’s Fugue for a Party was performed by Fortune at a Buffalo AGO recital in March.
GERRY SZYMANSKI’S Christmas anthem A Boy is Born for choir, orchestra, organ, and handbells was premiered at Houghton College in December, 1996. That performance was later broadcast on Public Radio station WXXI in Rochester, NY.
WARNER HUTCHISON’S Poe-Songs for soprano, horn, and vibraphone will appear on an upcoming Society of Composers recording (available on Capstone records). The composer’s As the Stars Forever for band appears on a new CD entitled “Portraits”, recorded by the USAF Heritage of America Band. Hutchison is currently completing two commissions: a concerto for horn and chamber orchestra, and a symphony for band, both for Fall 1997.
Meditation: Thoughts While Shaving
by Warner Hutchison, Composer-in-residence, Professor Emeritus, New Mexico State University
(Happily, my facial accoutrements require little need for removing whiskers, so these remarks will be blessedly brief:)
Pertaining to CFAMC: One must remember that the first two words are “Christian Fellowship”; this is not merely another composers’ club. It is a unique answer to prayer for us which has been long overdue.
Productive composing requires daily discipline: Not unlike Bible study, prayer, living in a marriage, meeting commitments, encouraging others, and practicing love, it involves special time and a quiet place. That sometimes painful process of determining which note follows another is something we all share. The difference for a Christian is the motivation and the outcome when the work is completed. I know of a composer who arose every morning and completed at least 12 bars of new music before breakfast.
Producing work involves other people: Unless one plans to write works and store them away sans performance (as Charles Ives did), rehearsing, correcting, and also recording or publishing a work always brings the composer in direct contact with people. We rely heavily upon them, and this may become a source of distress for a composer, but it also provides opportunities to bear witness to our faith and to practice patience (both of which I’ve failed to do all too many times).
Personal ambition can be a handicap: Any artist’s greatest temptation is pride. (That’s the stuff that “goes before a fall”). On the other hand, humility is not thinking about yourself at all, but simply completing the project without disregarding the needs of others. Conceit has a curious way of showing through some works, even those by major composers, in the form of artless or contrived gestures or even whole pieces. Be honest. One would not wish to emulate the chap who said: “I’m humble: so, go tell your friends about it!” Recognition and honor may come, but praise goes to our Lord Jesus Christ for making possible our successes.Pursue ideal goals, but eschew elitism : Music is the most sublimely idealistic art among all the arts, and the most abstract. Small wonder that musicians are often accused of being unrealistic. Composers are among the most idealistic of all musicians, and a Christian composer may be a quintessential idealist. Idealism in itself is not a negative; after all, composers work at the highest level of the pursuit of beauty and truth, the Classical ideal. God selects and appoints talent but He requires a return on the investment. Any elitist position removes the potential for mature communication through music to the needs of the human heart.
Preserve your sense of humor: Over-profundity in a composition produces fecundity, but it may also breed sterility. Variety must be balanced with unity. Choice and inevitability are the two processes which govern every work.
Persevere: never give up. (Selah). My prayer for you (and for myself) is that you realize your dreams, compose with joy, and that your prosper, so that “whatever your hand finds to do, you do it heartily as unto the Lord.” May blessings from our One True Creator follow you and your work.
ORLANDO CANALE graduated from the Curtis Institute in composition in 1946. Now retired from the education field, he can be reached at 2808 S.E. Fort King St., Ocala FL 34470-1227, (352)694-6905, *protected email*.
JEFF MEYER teaches music theory. history, piano, and composition at Simpson College, 2211 College View Dr., Redding CA 96003, (916)224-5600, *protected email*.
LAWRENCE MUMFORD teaches composition, music history, and music technology courses at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita CA. A published member of ASCAP and a doctoral graduate of the University of Southern California, he can be contacted at 667 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre CA 91024.
HUGH SUNG, pianist, debuted with the Philadelphia Orchestra at age 11. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, he currently serves as Director of Instrumental Accompaniment at that school. Hugh can be reached at the Curtis Institute, 1726 Locust St., Phildelphia PA 19103, (215)893-5252, ext. 3177.
JONATHAN VEENKER, who completed graduate work at the University of Minnesota, teaches theory, composition, orchestration, and fine arts appreciation at Bethel College in St. Paul MN. He can be reached at 3443 Halifax Ave. North, Robbinsdale MN 55422, (612)638-6385, *protected email*.
Composer, ‘cellist, and producer GREG NELSON has been working for more than twenty years in the Nashville Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) industry. Now, Greg has decided to follow the Lord into an expanded musical ministry through art music, his first love. Greg is convinced of the urgent need for the mission of CFAMC and wants to be involved in helping our membership. He will be embarking upon a series of concerts featuring substantial Christian choral and instrumental music. In Greg’s words, he wants “to be a bridge” between Christian composers and the modern evangelical Church. He knows that this endeavor will take time, perhaps a long time, but he is ready to begin the work!
Fellow CFAMC members, this is a major event in the development of our Fellowship. Greg Nelson is now accepting Christian choral and instrumental works from our membership for possible inclusion in his concert series vision. He certainly has the connections and resources to begin this new ministry. For example, Greg’s sister is the choral director/preparer for the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra! Greg is looking for serious, substantial works that “go beyond” the norms of current church and popular music, and which are distinctly Christian in their content and intent.
To submit your pieces for consideration, send scores and tapes (strongly preferred, but not absolutely necessary) to: Greg Nelson, 900 19th Ave. South, Suite 404, Nashville TN 37212. Please include self-addressed, stamped envelopes if you wish your materials returned. Also, include your name, address, phone number, e-mail, and any other information which might be helpful to Greg. Only CFAMC members in good standing (i.e., current-year dues paid!) should apply, please. Praise the Lord for His blessings toward our ministry. May Greg’s vision be guided by the Holy Spirit as we seek together to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ with our music!
“Things I Learned About Concert Promotion Last Fall” or “Can New Music Find Life Outside Academia ?”
by Jeff VanDell Last fall Scott McCoy, Greg Scheer and I had six of our compositions performed at a concert that produced. It was a very challenging and rewarding experience. Enough time has past that I can look objectively at what was accomplished, what worked and what didn’t. I decided to present the same program of new music on two consecutive nights in locations far enough apart to garner two independent audiences. I decided on a total length of two hours and asked Greg and Scott to contribute two pieces each. I also enlisted a friend to perform fifteen to twenty minutes of new classical guitar music. There was a good variety of styles and instrumentation. Scott contributed a duet for soprano and trumpet as well as a piece for six string players, two flutes and piano. Greg gave us a setting of Psalm 42 for two sopranos, flute, clarinet, violin, viola, double bass and guitar. Greg also sent a lovely duet for viola and cello that was my personal favorite of the concert. My own pieces were a theme and variations for woodwind quintet and six songs for soprano, violin, clarinet, cello, percussion and piano. I was fortunate by finding a wonderful percussionist who played great drum set as well as mallet percussion. Finding him took many phone calls. As a matter of fact the most labor intensive part of this project was finding players. I had to search far and wide to find people because I have not worked regularly with a group or am affiliated with a school anymore. I always got a referral from a musician if he or she could not do the gig and I built up my musicians address book this way. Funding the project was also a problem. A couple of the players were doing it for free but most got $70.00 for both concerts and one rehearsal. That didn’t seem like much compensation and I felt a little guilty but I had limited resources: my own! The caliber of musicians was varied. Some were right out of college or grad school, a few were still in school and several more had been doing it for a living for quite a while. Some were motivated by the money but most did it because it was new music. I was thankful for the people I got because they all had professional attitudes. In most cases I was able to send the music out way in advance and not think about it until the concert. Two of the large ensemble pieces came off with just one rehearsal and my own pieces had been rehearsed several times, although I only had one rehearsal with everyone there. There was also one first violin part that got mailed to three consecutive players with a tape and nice letter/directions…etc. After getting confirmation from them players that they could do it,they later called me later and canceled for various reasons. It was getting near the due date, the third player had called and said she had a wedding to go to that day (aren’t those things planned way in advance?!) so I went to New England Conservatory and put up posters; “Desperately Seeking Violin!”. I got a call later that day and found my violinist with no time to spare. At the one and only rehearsal for Psalm 42 the we discovered that the guitarist could not follow a conductor (me) and had no ensemble experience. It was very embarrassing for the guitarist but after a few aborted attempts I asked the pianist to play his part instead. It came off well although not what the composer had in mind (sorry Greg!).
Scott was able come to Boston to conduct his own piece, “Three Shapes”, and with our one dress rehearsal done we were pretty much set to go. One thing that I consciously did was invite believers as well as non-believers play. I don’t believe in salvation by osmosis but for some players, working with us might be one of the few contacts they have with Christians. This was my first attempt at producing and promoting a concert and even though I prepared much in advance there were still some surprises. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about them. First off, there were only ten people at the first concert and seventeen at the second. The people who came were mostly wives, girlfriends/boyfriends and a few people who went to the church’s where the concerts were. This was not for lack of advertising. I had posters made and put them everywhere I could think of. I sent out 100 mailers telling people about the concert and sent copy to local papers for inclusion in their arts and entertainment sections. We also gave away copies of books who’s texts were used in the songs as door prizes. Obviously I’m not going to win the “marketing strategist of the year” award. Secondly, it was also a financial bust. I was asking for a donation of five dollars at the door. I think we made all of $45.00 for both nights. I’m not in this for the huge financial rewards but $45.00 did not begin to cover expenses. Next time I’ll have to charge $50.00 per person!
Finally, I had problems with recording the concert. I had no one to run sound and since I was doing just about everything else this got pushed to the last minute. The first night didn’t get recorded because I thought I was missing an adaptor for the mics, I wasn’t of course, I’m just stupid. The second night I thought I would be able to get a great DAT and video of the concert but for some reason the DAT did not work and although I got most of the concert on video tape I missed my song cycle because the battery ran out as it started. Such is life.
Musically, I would give it a B+/A-. The performances were uneven and although there were no glaring gaffs, much of the nuance written into the music was not fully brought out by the performers. It’s really a question of time and money. Doing new music well is labor intensive. To give new music the same fair hearing most of the traditional repertoire receives is almost out of reach to journeyman composers. I can’t imagine sending a piece to the BSO chamber players and having them enthusiastically perform or even read it. I also discovered that even if the pieces weren’t great in rehearsal performers put out extra effort at the performance. That extra adrenalin rush from the players got us through some of the more technically challenging moments. It also saved me when I took a mental “holiday” during a fermata in Psalm 42. I spaced out for a second and held my arms in the air for a while. Amazingly, the group just held the note and stared at me until I “recovered”. Ah the power of the baton!
I’m not sure what to do about lack of interest in new music. I would like to think that new music and composers of it can have a life outside of the academic world, but I’m not sure. It’s obvious to me that new music on it own does not have much of an audience and it needs a “hook” to garner a significant audience. I may try to have the next concert as a benefit for a local charity, perhaps a crisis pregnancy center, and let someone else take care of promotions, which was over half of what I spent my time on. People not willing to trek out to a somewhat obscure “new music concert” will probably come out for a charitable cause.
Even though it was, at times, a hellacious experience, I’m going to do more “New Music by People of Faith” concerts. I prayed a lot and believe that the Lord was helping me beyond what I could see. Even though there were some significant difficulties I believe that God was glorified and there is a future for this kind of event. To anyone in the Boston area: if you’d like to participate in the next concert of “New Music by People of Faith” (Fall of 97’) call or write me at the following address:*protected email* Jeff VanDell 30 West Beacon St. Lawrence MA 01843-1934 508-688-6756
From the Editor:
As I write to you today, I am thinking of my baby daughter, Hannah, born March 19, 1997! I wonder what sort of a world she will live her adult life in, spiritually and musically. It sounds cliched, but it really is true that having children changes one’s perspective. At first, I began to think that there are an awful lot of things more important than Christian musical practices to be concerned about. But it didn’t take me long to return to the thought that has carried me through the founding and continuation of CFAMC: It does matter what music I listen to, what music I offer to God in worship and in concert, what music I compose. Because, sooner or later, that and all the other cultural manifestations of my values will literally shape the world around me. And, for a while, my world will be her world too. One way or another, it will influence the way she shapes her world for Christ.
Have you thought lately about how your music is shaping the world around you? What are we saying about God with our music? What are we Christians teaching our children (and our world) by what we write, perform, and listen to? It matters…
CFAMC Initiatives Move Forward
Happy New Year! We pray that 1997 will be a wonderful year of blessing from God for you and your family, as well as for the ministry of CFAMC. Several of the initiatives discussed in the Fall 1996 newsletter have begun to move forward. As always, the CFAMC leadership team welcomes your comments and suggestions, and covets your prayers for the work of the Fellowship. Look for more detailed information in the next newsletter (Spring 97).
* So far, five Christian colleges have expressed interest in participating in the “CFAMC New Music Month”, which is being tentatively scheduled for April 1998. Students and/or faculty at the participating schools will present at least one work by a CFAMC member composer during that month. We will provide program covers and other publicity materials so that the participating schools can identify our Fellowship in their activities. Additionally, CFAMC may receive programs (and possibly recordings) of the performances. Please continue to pray about the logistics of making Christian college music departments aware of our works, such as use of the Internet and paper catalogs. The final list of participating schools will be published in the near future.
* Plans for a competitive CFAMC scholarship are beginning to take shape. The amount of the one-time award will most likely be $500. A list of rules governing the competition has yet to be drafted, but several issues which have been raised include: 1) The scholarship must be used specifically for art music composition study in either a preparatory or collegiate music program, or an approved summer music program; 2) Applicants will submit evidence of both compositional talent/interest, such as resumes and sample work(s), and Christian spiritual commitment, such as letters of reference from pastors and written testimonies; 3) The winner will acknowledge CFAMC in educational/professional situations, such as resumes and awards ceremonies (music programs which publish such lists of awards will also be encouraged to acknowledge the CFAMC award). Issues which remain to be settled include how to most effectively publicize the competition, gathering an appropriate judging panel, and the wisest way to disperse funds to the winners. Although no decisions have been made, a deadline for receipt of applications of November 1, 1997 has been suggested, with the award announced by February 1, 1998, for use during the summer of 1998 or academic year 1998-99.
* The music and mission of CFAMC composers may be featured on a regular new music program, “Kalvos and Damien New Music Bazaar”, which airs on a Public Radio station in Northfield, Vermont. By the request of the show’s producers, we are planning to submit a tape of the 1996 Conference Concert. Please pray about any opportunities which may arise to share Christ with those invovled.
God is truly in control of our ministry. Praise Him for His grace and provision! May our plans be His plans.
News of Note: Activities of CFAMC Composers
WARREN GOOCH’S Laborynthodontia (for trumpet and piano), Te Deum (for chorus and orchestra), and Three Reflections From the Psalms (for chorus) were performed in November and December at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. Last October his Sonata for Soprano Saxophone and Piano was performed at the Tampa Bay Composers Forum, and his Out of the Primordial Ocean (for percussion ensemble) at Arizona State University. The latter piece was also recently published by Alliance Publications, Inc., along with the composer’s Dragon Music (for piano) and A Song of the Night (for treble choir).
SCOTT ROBINSON’S Out Under the Sky , a piano trio based on I Wonder As I Wander , was performed in December at Wooddale Church in Minnesota.
HARRY BULOW can be heard performing his own piece Contours (for unaccompanied clarinet) on the latest Society of Composers CD (entitled “Evocations”), which was released last Fall. Check out the editor’s review of the piece elsewhere in this newsletter issue.
In November the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra premiered MARK HIJLEH’S Symphony #1: Into the Face of Eternity . The work received a scathing review by the Buffalo News music critic! Also in November, the Houghton Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by the composer, premiered Hijleh’s Violin Concerto with soloist Nathan Lawrence.
IT’S NOT TOO EARLY to renew your CFAMC membership for 1997! Calendar year dues for 1997 are due now. Sending your $15.00 today will guarantee that you won’t miss out on any exciting CFAMC news or opportunities. Make checks payable to “CFAMC-Houghton College” and send to CFAMC, Dr. Mark Hijleh, School of Music, Houghton College, Houghton NY 14744. We must receive your dues by March 1st in order to keep the “CONCERTed offering” and other information coming your way. Dues and any additional contributions you wish to make are fully tax deductible.
Welcome New Members!
JEFF CRANFILL writes both church music and concert music. He directs music at Red Bank Baptist Church, 4000 Dayton Blvd., Chattanooga TN 37415.
CLIVE DAVIS recently completed a doctorate in composition at Boston University, and is looking for an academic position! He can be reached at 1086 Commonwealth Ave., #104, Boston MA 02215, (617)730-2911, *protected email*.
PATRICIA GIBBONS graduated from the Moody Bible Institute and Laurier University (Canada) in piano. She currently studies composition privately at Oakland University. Her contact information: 5533 Folkstone Dr., Troy MI 48098-3114, (810)879-8807.
GLADYS VANDERCOOK has taught piano and theory, sung opera, and composed church and educational music for many years. She is interested in having her church music published and used in more churches. Gladys can be reached at 8331 Beverly Dr., San Gabriel CA 91775, *protected email*.
GABRIEL WILLEY is a third-year theory/composition major at Houghton College. He can be reached at CPO Box 1693, Houghton College, Houghton NY 14744 (716)567-5237.
TIM ZIMMERMAN is on the faculty of Grace College Music Dept., 200 Seminary Dr., Winona Lake IN 46590.
Meditation: Where is Our Mission?
by Frank Felice, Assistant Professor of Music, Lamar University
When I first came back to Christ (after a detour that lasted for a decade), one of the things that certainly put me in a quandry was what He would want me to do for Him — would I continue my education as a composer? Or would I be asked to sacrifice that part of my life to go elsewhere, do other things? I think many of us have felt this way at one time or another, though I believe that it may be unthinkable to some that we should give up our creative sense to “go into some wilderness” to serve God — a scary thought in many respects! However, I had no sign from the Spirit that I should do other things rather than complete my training as I had planned. Still, doubt plagued me — is this what God really wants me to do?
In a conversation I was having with another man from our bible study, I voiced the opinion that instead of landing an academic position with a bible college, I thought that I might end up teaching in a state school, or a private liberal arts college where there might be little Christian fellowship, especially in the music department. Out of the blue, a woman interupted our conversation: “Yes — that’s exactly it — we need more of a Christian presence in our universities,” and then just kept on walking!! Interesting…
Doing Ph.D work at the University of Minnesota confirmed this need — like many schools, this is where secular humanist, pagan, atheistic, animist, and many other schools of thought besides Christianity are practiced, discussed, and preached. In a strongly academic environment where current musicological trends are all towards deconstruction, the flexibility of truth, and the slippage of the signifier, the call for the truth as lived, died, and resurrected in Jesus Christ is not practiced by the majority, but by a minority who pray underground (literally!). The faculty contribution? Less than a handful that I knew of, and none who were active with the graduate prayer group.
Where is the Christian faculty leadership on the “front lines” of our universities’ music departments? Who advises our students, not only as teachers of creativity, but also as witnesses to the work of the first Creator? What about those concert halls where even fervent non-believers sing “Credo in unum Deo,” and disbelieving composers are drawn to set the words of our Savior? Where best to do our work as Christian composers?
I am convinced that much of the answer lies in doing our work in the secular arena: concert halls, state university faculties, etc. The simple presence of someone who claims Christ changes the environment all around them — even when our music is not overtly “sacred”, our world view shapes all of what we compose. The music we teach, write, and perform is informed by the fact that our salvation is fact — not a “text” to be bandied about in discourse. In some ways, I would like to enjoy the presence of other believers in a bible college setting, working with a faculty made up exclusively of Christians. However, that’s “preaching to the choir”, isn’t it? Christian composers are needed elsewhere — to show to the concert audiences, to the music departments, and to the general public that our creative spirit comes not from ourselves, but from the first Creator. In many ways CFAMC creates a forum which supports these ideas, but for us to be effective in this struggle we need not only to witness to each other musically, but also to bring our Christian forum into the secular world.
[Editor’s note: Thanks, Frank, for your “call to action”. As a Christian who teaches in a Christian college, I would certainly like to hear some response from others members on this topic. Keep those cards and letters coming!]
Contours (1980) for solo clarinet by Harry Bulow, performed by the composer on the Society of Composers CD “Evocations” (Capstone Records CPS-8631); reviewed by Mark Hijleh.
The composer writes: “Contours consists of three major sections each based upon the opening six-tone motive. The various sections are characterized by registral and textural designs which are unique to the clarinet. The middle section has a timbral focus featuring a contrast between soft motivic units and flutter-tongue, non-pitch oriented passages while the outer sections contrast the melodic and rhythmic capabilities of the instrument.” This rather technical (though certainly accurate) description does not tell the whole story, however. Contours , like much of the more complex variety of new music, evokes a very mystical reaction from this listener, a reaction based both on the audible interactions within the music itself and on certain spiritual implications of the work’s character. Put more simply, this is positive music. Despite the dissonance level of the pitched sections and the “noise-like” qualities of the contemporary techniques employed, Bulow’s virtuosic and sensitive performance of his own work produces not a dreary, pessimistic statement, but rather a hopeful, perhaps even childlike exhuberance. This activity is punctuated by brief and somewhat tentative breaths of thoughtfulness which speak with the calm profundity of the voice of God. Although it is probably dangerous to interpret non-Biblical works in the light of scriptual passages, nevertheless in Contours one is reminded of 1 Kings 19:11-13: not in the earthquake, wind, or fire did God speak to Elijah, but in a still small voice. And, as the reader might expect, this reviewer believes that music by Christian believers is somehow invested with His Spirit in ways that works by those who do not know Him can never be.
Pray for the CPAF MasterWorks Festival!
CFAMC member Patrick Kavanaugh, who serves as the Executive Director of the Christian Performing Artists Fellowship (CPAF), requests prayer for the first annual MasterWorks Festival. For more information about this exciting new summer program for Christian classical musicians, call 1-888-836-CPAF(2723), or visit the CPAF web page at http://www.dcez.com/~cpaf/cpaf.htm
From the Editor:
As I write this, my college campus is hosting a wonderful Christian life emphasis week, which happens at the beginning of each new semester. This time the guest minister/speaker is challenging us from the book of Daniel. It seems that Daniel was able, by God’s grace, to stand uncompromised as one of God’s chosen people for some 70 years in the midst of King Nebuchadnezzer’s carefully crafted attempts to assimilate him into pagan Babylonian culture. Note in Psalm 137 that not all the exiled Israelites were successful in resisting the pull of their captor’s culture: they found it difficult to sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land (v.1-4). But Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah sang those songs without apology. This week, the pastor asks us repeatedly: Have our minds been molded to the patterns of our own relentlessly secular culture? How are we different as children of the living God? Can we learn to trust the Lord and work to remain clearly identified as Christian to our fellow citizens? I would carry the question one step further: Are there spiritual implications for the evanglical Church’s wholesale abandonment of art music and absorption of the music of pop culture? Could it be that standing as a Christian art music composer (whom non-believing musicians think hopelessly old-fashioned and whom Christians think out of touch with “the common man’s gospel”) has the potential to make a statement loud enough to gain the attention of believers and non-believers alike amid all the din? I, for one, want to be a Daniel in my Babylonian culture. . .