CFAMC Represented at National Arts Conference
In September I (Mark Hijleh) travelled to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania to attend an interdisciplinary arts conference entitled Arts in Society: Strategies for the Twenty-first Century. During the conference I presented myself as a representative of CFAMC. The four day event focused on discussions of questions which are very relevant to our ministry, including, What is the role of live performance and museum visits in an age of electronic media? Are the traditional catagories of “high” and “popular” art still relevant in our society? How are philanthropists responding to competing social agendas (such as whether to fund a symphony orchestra or a literacy program)? and Why has arts education been devalued in recent years as an important component of primary and secondary education (and, we might add, in the church as well)? Needless to say, the discussions were lively. I was struck by the lack of Christian voices in the group, but also by how I, as an outspoken Christian composer, was accepted into the dialogue with only a few raised eyebrows. It simply confirmed to me that Christians must take an active leadership role in the affairs of our culture. It would be impossible to report the entire content of the meeting, but a couple of ideas stood out to me. Early on I jotted down the following words: “The Christian community reflects the same artistic trends as the culture at large. Can that be good?” Famed minimalist painter Mel Bochner said this in a panel discussion: “Art is not comfortable.” Finally, let me share with you some disturbing information presented at the conference. There are really only two companies who own all the art music recording labels and thus control the entire art music recording industry, at least in North America. One is a Japanese electronics manufacturer, SONY, and the other is a Canadian distiller, Seagrams. The President of the SONY Classical label is Peter Gelb, who, when asked what his qualifications for heading that division were, replied, “I studied music briefly as a small child.” Do you know what Mr. Gelb thinks the biggest and most successful classical record release of the year was? I’ll give you a moment to ponder. No, not anything by Yo-Yo Ma or even Gregorian chant. According to Peter Gelb, the biggest classical release of 1998 was the soundtrack to “Titanic” by James Horner. Several months ago, Mr. Gelb was quoted in Grammophone magazine as saying, “I know what good music is, I just don’t want to record it.” This is the state of serious musical leadership in our contemporary culture. CFAMC composers have a lot of work to do.
News of Note: Activities of CFAMC Composers
WILLIAM ALLEN’S Celebration Toccata for organ was perfomed by Dr. Susan Hegberg in September at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove PA.
SCOTT LIEBENOW has been named composer-in-residence for the choir of the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University in Chicago. This fall the choir will present the composer’s cantata, The Tower of Babel.
WARREN GOOCH has been blessed with many performances of his music over the past several months. Last November he heard his John I: The Word for chorus and Dragon Music for piano at Illinois Central College. His Sonata for Soprano Saxophone and Piano was performed at Truman State University in February, and again at the 1998 North American Saxophone Alliance conference at Northwestern University in March. Also in March, the Truman State University Orchestra performed his Clockwork. In April, the composer heard his work Out of the Primordial Ocean performed by the Indiana University Percussin Ensemble at the Society of Composers, Inc. 1998 conference, as well as a performance of his choral anthem Teach Me the Way of Thy Word at Truman State University. Finally, his piece The View from the Tower for mezzo soprano, tuba, and piano was premiered at the Macro Analysis Creative Research Organization conference in May.
Welcome New Members!
BRIAN DOUGLAS is a sophomore marketing and theory/composition major at Stetson University. He can be reached at Stetson University, Campus Box 7934, DeLand FL 32720, (904)740-6172, .
KEVIN McDONALD is a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic College, and a Master’s student in composition at the University of Miami. He can be contacted c/o Seigle, 2903 NW 62 Terr., Margate FL 33063, (954)971-3314, .
COLIN OAKES can be reached at the Dept. of Philosophy, Marquette University, 132 Coughlin Hall, Milwaukee WI 53233, .
WALTER COSAND is an active performer of new music, and chair of the piano department at Arizona State University. He can contacted at School of Music, Arizona State Univ., Tempe AZ 85287-0405, (602)965-4254, .
Director of Worship, Music, and Fine Arts
A growing PCA church of 1,000+ in Annapolis, Maryland seeks a capable, energetic and experienced worship leader with a heart to grow the saints in the worship of God. Candidates should be knowledgeable of, and committed to, a Reformed understanding of worship and be well prepared musically, both by way of study and experience. Candidates should have strong vocal and instrumental skills, ability and experience in both traditional and contemporary styles, some dramatic skill and background, and the demonstrated ability to administer a diverse musical and artistic program. Responsibilities include: (1) participation in planning and presenting Sunday worship services; (2) development and administration of multifaceted music program, including various vocal and instrumental ensembles; and (3) development, direction and supervision of dramatic and fines arts ministry. Attractive salary and benefits commensurate with training and experience. Please send resume to: Worship Committee, Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Annapolis, 710 Ridgely Avenue, Annapolis, Maryland 21401
The Macro Analysis Creative Research Organization announces the First Annual M.A.C.R.O. Composition Competition.
Macro analysis is a reductive analytical system which views music via harmonic motion to and from a target chord or tonic. Its traditional application involves tonal music based upon “circle-of-fifth” root motion. However, this application can be extended to include virtually any kind of music that involves some sort of regular, directed harmonic motion.
Composers of any age or nationality are invited to submit works involving in some way the concepts and/or principles of macro analysis. Prizes of $500, $250, and $100, as well as performance opportunities, will be awarded. STRICT GUIDELINES AND SUBMISSION PROCEDURES MUST BE FOLLOWED. FOR DETAILED INFORMATION, CONTACT DR. WARREN GOOCH, COMPOSITION CHAIR, DIVISION OF FINE ARTS, BALDWIN HALL 118, TRUMAN STATE UNIVERSITY, KIRKSVILLE MO 63501, (660)785-4429, . Dealine for entries is January 15, 1999.
From the Editor:
Fall is a busy time for academics like me. We have classes to teach, meetings to attend and lots and lots of reading and writing to do. Next month I am giving a lecture-recital at Houghton College entitled Contemporary Culture, Christians and Virtuous Music. I got the idea of “virtuous music” from a colleague of mine who is developing a set of courses around the topics of personal and civic virtue. What are the classic virtues? According to the ancient Greeks, they include wisdom, justice, courage, temperence (including self-discipline and self-control), patience, perseverance, prudence, and others. We know from God’s word that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control; surely these must be considered Christian virtues. One particular characteristic of virtues which needs to be emphasized is that they are not cheap and easy. It occured to me that some music both displays and encourages virtuous characteristics, and some does not, and it ought to be the Christian community that promotes “virtuous music” (write or email me and I’ll send you a copy of my text!). In any event, please pray for me as I put the finishing touches on my presentation. And let’s all pray for each other, that in the busy-ness of Fall we won’t forget to listen to the Master’s voice…
Conference ’98 Report
Praise the Lord for His glorious grace! The 1998 CFAMC Conference proved to be an enriching experience for all involved. Presented as part of the 1998 MasterWorks Festival at Houghton College, the conference included an appearance by CFAMC Honorary Member and Pulitzer prize winner Charles Wuorinen. As part of Mr. Wuorinen’s visit, the MasterWorks Festival Orchestra performed the composer’s Microsymphony , which was warmly received by the audience. Mr. Wuorinen also gave an inspiring talk on some of the critical issues surrounding contemporary composition and its relation to Christian worship and theology.
Conference participants were treated to a wonderful recital of selected members’ compositions on Saturday afternoon, performed by faculty and students of the MasterWorks Festival. Works included two movements from Scott Robinson’s Nes Gadol for piano trio, Jason Bahr’s Carlton for piano solo, one of Rick Cerchia’s Variants on Two Hymn Tunes for clarinet, bassoon and piano, Dan Crozier’s Nocturne for ‘cello and piano, and Rick Drehmer’s Amazing Grace Rag for piano solo. Also included on the program was Arab Mists for flute and piano by MasterWorks composition student Crisla Harris. An audience of some fifty people proved to be one of the largest and most appreciative ever at a CFAMC conference concert!
Other conference activities included a presentation on the music of James MacMillan by Scott Robinson, a report and discussion about issues surrounding the 1998 Church Music at a Crossroads conference by Greg Scheer (see report elsewhere in this issue), and several peer sessions in which members shared their compositions with each other. Much time was also devoted to prayer and discussion about the activities of CFAMC, followed by the annual meeting of the Board of Directors (see report elsewhere in this issue). CFAMC members attending were joined by four composition students from the MasterWorks Festival.
News of Note
It was RYAN LOTT( not Mark Chambers) who heard the premiere of his “Love Letters” for piano, marimba, vibes, and celesta at the Society of Composers (SCI) Region IV Conference at Georgia State University in February. The piece was performed by Thamyris , a professional new music ensemble from Atlanta. Our apologies for the error in the last newsletter.
CFAMC Vice-President GREG SCHEER has accepted a position as minister of music at Wildwood Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee FL. Also, two of his pieces for string quartet (6 and Jig ) were recently recorded by the Chagall Quartet and played on WQED public radio along with an interview with the group’s cellist.
CFAMC Secretary FRANK FELICE will join the composition faculty of Butler University in Indianapolis IN this Fall.
JASON BAHR’S Meditation and Fanfare, which was premiered by organist Kirsten Halker at the 1997 CFAMC conference at Bowling Green State University, was performed again in March of this year by Miss Halker, and also in April in Bluffton OH.
WALTER SAUL has released a new CD entitled Out of Darkness Into His Marvelous Light: Sacred Art Music by Walter Saul , which includes the composer’s Cry of the Untouchables , Five Biblical Songs , Sonata #3 for Piano , and Toccata in C . The recording may be purchased directly from the composer for $15 (plus $3 shipping/handling) by contacting: Tarsus Music, 3645 SE 79th Avenue, Portland, OR 97206-2319, (503) 777-2359. Information on obtaining performance materials is also available at the same address.
CONTACT UPDATE: DARLENE KOLDENHOVEN requests that contacts with her be made through the following addresses: , (818)980-2840, http://members.aol.com/timeart1.
The Church Music at a Crossroads 1998 Symposium in Wheaton, Illinois
by Greg Scheer
Since I am involved in church music and had already considered going to the 1998 Church Music at a Crossroads Symposium anyway, I volunteered to attend the Wheaton, Illinois symposium as a representative of the CFAMC. It seemed like a perfect match — here was a weekend dedicated to excellence in contemporary church music and I was representing a group of Christians who have dedicated themselves to excellence in contemporary composition. Certainly there would be a healthy interest between the groups!
The main speakers of this yearly symposium dedicated to the betterment of church music were Ken Meyers (former NPR Morning Edition Arts editor and author of All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes ) and Calvin Johansson (author of Discipling Music Ministry ). Meyers discussed the ills of our modern society and how its ideas are infiltrating the church, while Johansson’s sessions discussed particular problems of contemporary music ministry. Both made scathing indictments of every worship trend that has emerged since the sixties, and it was common to hear phrases like “blended music is schizophrenic,” (this was especially ironic since the father of blended worship, Robert Webber, is a professor at Wheaton) “praise and worship does not convey the timelessness of God or His people,” “church skits are a cheap substitute for the intrinsic drama of the Bible,” “praise bands are egocentric,” etc. Although they were very vocal about what was wrong with contemporary worship, neither offered any practical solutions or suggested worship styles or music that offered an antidote to what they see as the breakdown of church life.
Even more disturbing than these ideas was the prevalent belief among symposium leaders and attendees that there are objective guidelines in the Bible which speak decisively about musical style. Most clearly articulated by workshop leader Louis Schuler, the reasoning goes something like this:
If God created order out of chaos (Genesis 1)
And God intends man’s creative instincts to follow this biblical pattern
Then western tonality is Biblical.
When I questioned Schuler about these ideas, he confirmed my suspicions that the practical application was just as frightening as the egocentric ideology behind them. Greg: “So you’re saying that a small congregation in a remote African village will need to learn traditional western hymnody if they want to please God in their worship?” Yes. “And most contemporary art music techniques defy biblical principals and nature itself, because traditional western tonality follows the natural overtone series?” Yes. (He used some clever semantics to avoid the fact that the overtone series is ‘out of tune.’) “And you believe that Ralph Vaughan Williams, a professed non-Christian, did more to further pure worship than the last 30 years of contemporary praise music, because he understood Biblical principles and church tradition?” Yes. “Would you say that Western art music is the closest to the Biblical ideal because it was born of a Christian culture?” Yes.
Even though I was ardently opposed to much of what I encountered at the symposium, I was able to garner a good amount of interest in the CFAMC at the display table which I set up in the foyer — ironically, though most CFAMC members would have a hard time swallowing the symposium’s ideology, the style of most CFAMC members’ sacred music fits very nicely into the demands of what symposium members feel that proper worship music should sound like!
The 1998 “Welcome Christmas!” Carol Contest, sponsored by the American Composer’s Forum and Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota is accepting submissions of never-heard choral scores of original Christmas carols with a three-minute maximum length. Prizes include performance and $1000. Detailed application instructions and rules should be obtained from Krystal Banfield and the ACF office, (612)228-1407, . HURRY, DEADLINE IS AUGUST 15, 1998!
HUGH SUNG, Director of Instrumental Accompaniment at the Curtis Institute of Music (and CFAMC member) has offered to review chamber music scores for possible distribution to Christian musicians at Curtis. No readings or performances are guaranteed, but Hugh wants to encourage Christian composers to keep writing! Send scores to him at 509 S. 5th St., Philadelphia PA 19147-1509.
The Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers is pleased to announce the 1999 CFAMC Scholarship AWARD
Applications are invited from Christian composers born on or after February 1, 1969 for a one-time scholarship award of $500 for use during the summer of 1999 or academic year 1999-2000. 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. Appropriate use will be determined by a CFAMC Executive Committee, and funds will be sent directly to the account of the winner at the educational institution or festival designated by her or him (i.e., a cash award will not be made directly to the winner). By applying, the winner agrees to be identified as the recipient of the 1999 CFAMC Scholarship in any and all publicity materials as determined by CFAMC. Applicants must be (or become) active composers in the Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers. Application postmark deadline is November 2, 1998. The award will be announced no later than February 1, 1999. Incomplete, late, or unofficial applications will not be accepted. For further information, please contact: CFAMC, Dr. Mark Hijleh, School of Music, Houghton College, Houghton NY 14744, (716)567-9424, . To expedite your request, please provide your name, mailing address, telephone number, and e-mail address when contacting CFAMC.
A complete, official application consists of the following:
1) Two letters of recommendation, one from a pastor and one from a composition teacher. These should be sent by the applicant, together with all other application materials in one package and not separately by the recommenders.
2) A brief Christian testimony (no more than one typed page).
3) A brief (no more than one typed page) response to the following essay question: “How are your compositional activities and Christian life related?”
4) At least one, but no more than two scores of art music composed for voice(s), instrument(s), and/or electronic media. Tapes of the music submitted are recommended, but not required (please do not send tapes of scores not submitted). A self-addressed envelope of sufficient size and with sufficient postage attached for return of scores/tapes MUST be submitted as well. Reasonable care will be exercised in the handling and return of scores and tapes, but in no way will CFAMC, the judging panel, or Houghton College be liable for any direct or indirect damages resulting from lost or damaged materials. Therefore only copies of scores and tapes should be sent.
5) A complete curriculum vitae/resume, including the name, address, phone number and e-mail address (if any) of the applicant.
6) A one-paragraph professional biographical sketch.
7) A detailed explanation of how the award will be used specifically for art music composition study in either a preparatory or collegiate music program, or a summer music program. (Appropriate use will be determined by the CFAMC Executive Committee, and funds will be sent directly to the account of the winner at the educational institution or festival designated by her or him (i.e., a cash award will not be made directly to the winner)).
8) If the applicant is not currently an active composer in the CFAMC, a $15.00 student membership contribution check made out to “CFAMC” must be enclosed. All contributions sent with application materials will automatically be applied to the 1999 calendar year.
Send all application materials (including recommendations) in one package to: 1999 CFAMC Scholarship, Dr. Mark Hijleh, School of Music, Houghton College, Houghton NY 14744. PLEASE NOTE: The judges decisions are final. The panel may also declare “no winner” at its discretion. The winner will be contacted first, after which materials will be returned to all other applicants along with information about the winner. Other publicity about the winner will follow, at the discretion of the CFAMC Board of Directors. Please do not contact CFAMC concerning the status of the award.
Board of Directors Meeting Report
The CFAMC Board held its annual meeting during the 1998 conference. Reports given included current membership and financial status of the fellowship. Discussion of membership on the Board led to the election of the following Directors for a three-year term (1999-2001): Mark Hijleh, Greg Scheer, Frank Felice, David Parker, Mark Chambers, Patrick Kavanaugh, Don Bryson, and Donald Wilson. The following officers were elected by the Board: Mark Hijleh, President and Treasurer, Greg Scheer, Vice-President, and Frank Felice, Secretary. Please see the Bylaws, available on our web page, for information on these election procedures. The full text of the minutes of the Board meeting will be available on our web page in the near future.
Several issues were then discussed and actions taken. The Board approved an overall operating budget for the fellowship of $2000 for 1999. Initiatives for the next year include: An international membership category; Regional CFAMC chapters in Indiana, Florida, and possibly California and the Pacific Northwest; a 1999 CFAMC Scholarship of $500; continued investigations into producing a searchable database of members’ works on our web page; contact with Christian college music departments about possible performance opportunities; and a CD recording project for the year 2000. Details on all these initiatives will become available as they take shape.
One particular issue of considerable discussion was when and where to host a 1999 national conference. The Board concluded that, although we wish to retain close ties to the CPAF MasterWorks Festival, the 1999 conference will likely take place in September of ’99, on a host college campus yet to be determined. The Board will continue to consider the possibility of producing future conferences in conjunction with the MasterWorks Festival, perhaps as often as every other year.
Please continue to pray that the CFAMC leadership will know the will of God in planning and executing the activities of the fellowship.
From the Editor:
In reflecting on the visit of Charles Wuorinen to the 1998 CFAMC conference, one incident in particular sticks out in my mind. While having dinner conversation with a few of us one evening, Mr. Wuorinen noted that self-conscious concern about such things as “being original”, “being accessible”, “being successful” can only impede the work of composers. What do such questions really mean, after all? And then it hit me: Composers who are focused on self cannot possibly be focused on the voice of God. Self-motivated music, like any self-motivated act done in the kingdom of Christ, can only result in confusion and folly. Here, then, is a profound connecting point between Christianity and the act of composition: None of us can try to be original, try to be accessible, try to be successful, because these things are about what we think about music, about this world, about what people need from music. We don’t know what they need (even if we think we know what they want). When we are content to simply be , we will hear the right notes, rhythms and forms for His pleasure. In the best moments, composition is not about me, nor is it about what I think I know about my listeners. It’s about Him.
After much prayer and work, the Board is pleased to announce that CFAMC has been recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt ministry! This means that all contributions made to the fellowship are now tax-deductible (for the giver) as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes. Please continue to pray about our efforts to raise the funds needed to carry out the programs of CFAMC (and start new ones!).
And speaking of contributions, an anonymous donor has come forward with $250 for the 1999 CFAMC scholarship, with a challenge that others contribute to this important fund. (The 1998 scholarship winner is Andrew Dionne -see the article elsewhere in this issue).
During he 1998 CFAMC Conference at Houghton College (see article elsewhere in this issue), the Board will meet to discuss several issues,including the 1999 scholarship, ideas for a 1999 conference, developing an international membership category, and a possible CFAMC recording project. Members who have topics or proposals for the Board should submit them to Mark Hijleh in writing before May 15. These should be ideas about the whole fellowship rather than requests for individual funding, etc.
As part of continued networking with musical organizations, CFAMC is sending Vice President Greg Scheer to a special conference in Wheaton IL, June 4-6. An organization called Church Music at a Crossroads will meet to discuss How Can We Sing the Lords Song in a Foreign Land?. The issues surrounding the quality of evangelical church music(particularly in American culture) and the role of composers will be at the heart of this conference. Other members interested in attending should contact Chuck King at: CMAC 98, College Church in Wheaton, 330 E. Union Ave., Wheaton IL 60187, .
News of Note: Activities of CFAMC composers
RYAN LOTT heard the premiere of his Love Letters for piano, marimba, vibes, and celesta at the Society of Composers (SCI) Region IV Conference at Georgia State University in February. The piece was performed by Thamyris, a professional new music ensemble from Atlanta.
ANDREW DIONNE is the winner of the 1998 CFAMC scholarship. Seethe full article elsewhere in this issue.
In February, WARNER HUTCHISON’S Horn Concerto was premiered at New Mexico State University by the Chamber Players de Las Cruces, conducted by Marianna Gabbi, with soloist Victor Valenzuela. Hutchisons The Desert Shall Bloom As the Rose was also featured on the program.
New World Records recently released a CD of music by MICHAEL KUREK. The project was made possible by an award from the Academy of Arts and Letters.
An article on the music of Olivier Messiaen by SCOTT ROBINSON recently appeared in the Minneapolis-St. Paul daily newspaper as part of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestras presentation of selections from Messiaen’s orchestral works.
MICHAEL YOUNG heard the orchestral premiere of a set of his Mountain Sketches (originally written for piano) by the Northwest Symphony Orchestra in April.
LARRY WARKENTIN’S anthem Like Candle Flame has been published by Lumina Music. The work is available for download from the Luminaweb site.
1998 CFAMC Conference
Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! We are very excited about the upcoming CFAMC national conference July 10-11 in Houghton, NY, and hope that you will be as well. Of particular note is the scheduled appearance of Pulitzer prize-winner and Honorary CFAMC member Charles Wuorinen in conjunction with the Christian Performing Artists Fellowship MasterWorks Festival. This packet should give you all the information you need to register and prepare for the conference, but if it does not please call us at (716)567-9424, and we will try to answer your questions. Below is a tentative schedule for the conference. Registration forms and travel info were mailed to all members in February, and are also available on the CFAMC web page. The conference fee is $30.00
per person attending, and includes all sessions and concerts. Also, please note that you must be a current (1998) CFAMC member. If you are not currently on our 1998 membership list, you must activate your 1998 membership by enclosing a tax-deductible 1998 membership contribution of $25 or more ($15 for students and non-composer performers) in addition to the conference fees in order to attend. Thank you for support and understanding. Please make checks payable to CFAMC. NOTE: Advance registration for the conference is required. All registration forms and payments must be RECEIVED (not postmarked) by June 22, 1998. Please pray about the conference and your attendance. Our previous conferences have been a wonderful blessing, and I have no doubt that the Lord will be with us in this one as well! See you all there!
Tentative CFAMC Conference schedule
July 10-11, 1998, Houghton College
Friday, July 10
8:00am – Continental breakfast
8:30 – Prayer and introductions: Mark Hijleh
(9:00 – 12:00 – MasterWorks orchestra rehearsal; we will attend the
portion devoted to Wuorinens Microsymphony, thus the following is
subject to change)
9:00 – 11:30 – Presentations or panel discussion (TBA)
11:30 – Lunch and fellowship time
1:00 – Joint CFAMC/MasterWorks session with Charles Wuorinen
2:30 – Peer sessions (6 at 15 minutes each)
4:00 – Break
4:30 – Presentation on the music of James MacMillan by Scott Robinson
5:00 – Panel discussion, or peer sessions (TBA)
6:00 – Dinner and fellowship time
8:00 – MasterWorks orchestra/choir concert, featuring Wuorinens Microsymphony,
and Mendelssohns Elijah
Saturday, July 11
8:00am – Breakfast and devotional with MasterWorks faculty and students
9:00 – Peer sessions (6 at 15 minutes each)
10:30 – Break
11:00 – Peer sessions (3-4 at 15 minutes each)
11:45 or 12:00 – Lunch and fellowship time
1:00 or 2:00 – CFAMC/MasterWorks composers concert (program TBA)
4:00 – Prayer and discussion on the future direction and activities
6:00 – Dinner and fellowship time
(6:00 – Board of Directors dinner meeting)
8:00 – MasterWorks concert, featuring Wuorinens Microsymphony and
selected opera scenes (CFAMC conference officially ends with this
[All are welcome to stay for Sunday morning worship with the MasterWorks
Festival, or at Houghton Wesleyan Church]
Andrew Dionne awarded 1998 CFAMC Scholarship
Mr. Andrew Dionne, a doctoral student in composition at Indiana University, is the recipient of the 1998 Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers Scholarship. The purpose of the annual award is to recognize and support Christian student composers who demonstrate both excellence in their Christian testimony and achievement and potential in art music composition. Applicants for the 1998 scholarship also included students from the Eastman School of Music, the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, and other music schools nationwide. The award of $500 will be used by Mr. Dionne for further study in composition during the summer of 1998 or the 1998-99 academic year. The panel of judges included CFAMC founder and President Mark Hijleh, Associate Professor of Music at Houghton College, CFAMC member Walter B. Saul II, Professor of Music at Warner Pacific College, CFAMC member Richard Cerchia of Caledonia, Michigan, and Pulitzer prize-winning composer and Honorary CFAMC member Charles Wuorinen, Professor of Music at Rutgers University.
Andrew Dionne has been active as a composer, violinist, and conductor. He earned the Bachelor of Music degree in composition with Roger Hannay at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, where he also studied conducting and served as concertmaster of the UNC Symphony Orchestra.Mr. Dionne has been a participant in the Advanced Master Class in Composition with Bernard Rands at the Aspen Music Festival as well as a guest composer at the June in Buffalo Festival. He is the recipient of the Cole Porter Fellowship at Indiana University, where his principal composition teachers have included David Dzubay and Claude Baker. Mr. Dionne is currently completing a commissioned work for the resident string trio of the University of Wisconsin.
In speaking of his compositional impetus, Mr. Dionne says, I feel called to compose, and composing is an activity about which I pray constantly…for inspiration, renewal and guidance. I would say that the Christian has all the reason in the world (and beyond) to live a life dedicated to creation. To use music, a most magnificent gem, to praise His name is a joy, and a burden, greater than all of the fleeting pleasures of this world.
Welcome New Members!
JOHN JAY HILFIGER is Associate Professor of music and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Indiana Wesleyan University. He maybe reached at the University, (765)677-2104, (765)664-6999, , .
DARLENE KOLDENHOVEN of TimeArt Recordings can be reached at 0000 Irvine Ave., Studio City CA 91604-2919.
RYAN LOTT is a student in composition at Indiana University. He may be contacted at Indiana University, Forest East 417B, Bloomington IN 47406, (812)857-9408, .
ROBIN NIXON can be reached at 1405 N. Allen Ave., Pasadena CA 91104, (626)797-0011.
A call for short (3-5 min) orchestral scores for use in church services. Instrumentation include 2 flutes, 1 clarinet, 1 bass clarinet, horn, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, piano, string quartet, and choir. Use any combination of the above in a work of easy to median difficulty. Send scores and tapes (if available) to Mark Chambers, 127 Broadway, Homewood, AL 35209.
Recommended Listening (instead of reading!)
Seven Last Words from the Cross , by Scottish Christian composer James MacMillan, on the Catalyst CD label. The recording also includes the composer’s Cantos Sagrados .
From the Editor:
It’s about a week until Easter Sunday, and I’m once again conflicted by the theological dilemma posed by Christ’s Passion versus His Resurrection. All around me Spring is bustin’ out, I’m on vacation and everything seems right with the world — sort of a post-Resurrection bliss. Yet Lent is upon us and the agony of Christ’s cross still looms ahead. I begin to wonder about the cost once again. The price of next Sunday’s Easter celebration was mind-bogglingly high: far, far worse than just a good man dying. Jesus put aside His God-given right to prevail without a fight; that is, He surrendered from a winning position simply because that is what His Father wanted. (In retrospect, we know why, but at the time it seemed ludicrous to all involved, except Christ Himself, and even He asked the question the night before). It was enormously expensive from an eternal point of view, let alone an earthly one. So I ask myself: What does (or will) it cost me to celebrate the outcome seven days from now? What does our Christianity cost us year-round? And what have I given up to be a Christian composer? What will make CFAMC different from any other composer’s club? The price of our party is going to be high for each of us personally, because, as this week shows, that is the way of things with God. It will be worth the cost if we listen to His voice, but it may not be much fun along the way…
Praise be to our God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! On November 28, 1997, The Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers began it’s “new life” as a non-profit religious corporation. This change in status has several implications for the future of CFAMC. First, the operations and activities of the Fellowship will now be overseen by a Board of Directors. The initial Board consists of President and Treasurer Mark Hijleh, Vice President Greg Scheer, Secretary Frank Felice, and CFAMC members Mark Chambers, Don Bryson, Pat Kavanaugh, and David Parker. The Board will be in constant prayer and in contact with each other, and will meet annually. The Board will also strive to be aware of the needs and desires of the wider CFAMC membership in making operational decisions concerning the ministry, so make your thoughts known to us! A copy of the new CFAMC bylaws will be available on the web page in the near future.
Another issue arising out of incorporation is the tax-exempt status of CFAMC. We are currently in the process of applying to the Internal Revenue Service for federal tax-exempt status as a non-profit Christian ministry. The application process is long and difficult, and an answer may not be immediately forthcoming, but we have every confidence that the Fellowship will be granted its exemption, retroactive to November 28, 1997. This means that all donations (including dues) made after that date will be deductible as charitable contributions on income tax returns! CFAMC will begin new efforts to encourage donations from individuals, churches, foundations, and Christian and music-related businesses. Please pray specifically for our work in this regard! Although the main focus of the CFAMC ministry is certainly not on making monetary grants to individual composers, our incorporation (and, specifically, our tax-exempt status) will allow us to offer scholarships and other awards larger than $600. It should be emphasized that the Board has no plans at this time to increase the number or amount of grants beyond the annual CFAMC scholarship.
Incorporation is a big step for CFAMC, but an exciting one. The goals and ministry of the Fellowship have not really changed. Our mission statement remains the same: To glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and help build His kingdom by encouraging the work and witness of Christian composers of symphonic and chamber music, opera, and other serious concert works . CFAMC will continue to be about ministry and fellowship by and among Christian art music composers, and will not become focused on legal and financial issues. However, the legal status of our group as a separate and perpetual “corporate entity” has been newly defined. Let us all pray that God will use the advantages of CFAMC’s new status for his perfect purposes. May we “be in the world, but not of it.”
News of Note: Acitivties of CFAMC Composers…
WILLIAM ALLEN’S Concerto for Euphonium was performed by Mark Cox at Central Michigan University last November.
SCOTT ROBINSON’S piano trio Out Under the Sky was performed at Tower Records locations in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York City by the Eakin Trio last November and December. The work is recorded on the Naxos label CD Home for the Holidays , which was featured as Barnes and Noble’s CD of the month in December. The recording was also the basis of a Public Radio International special sponsored by Habitat for Humanity and broadcast in December of 1996, with a re-broadcast in December of 1997. Finally, the album has been nominated for a Grammy award.
Scott also recently completed a two-part article on music and worship for Sojournors magazine. See Recommended Reading in this issue for more details.
JONATHAN VEENKER’S Olscha Variations for solo winds and wind ensemble was premiered at Bethel College last September.
Honorary member GEORGE TSONTAKIS’ Four Symphonic Quartets were recently released on the Koch label, performed by L’Orchestre Philharmonique de la Monte-Carlo under the baton of James DePriest.
MARK CHAMBERS has won the Southern Chapter College Music Society Student Composition Award for his Three Poems of Robert Frost . The work will be performed at the Southern CMS conference this February at the State University of West Georgia.
More Response to Kavanaugh
From Patricia Gibbons:
Patrick Kavanaugh’s article, “Does Godliness Equal Tonality?” has certainly sparked some lively debate. As composers, we need to grapple with the place of contemporary techniques for the Christian composer. I believe that composition must be understood in the context of the character of God. Certainly, our God is infinitely creative. Who else could dream up 72,000 different kinds of beetles, or conceive of a spider forming a nest for her eggs at the bottom of a pond? He will never be indimidated by the extremes we may explore in our compositions. Twentieth-century techniques, including the avant-garde, are available to us for “secular” or “sacred” use. Could any one of us compose anything dissonant enough to communicate the horror of Golgotha? Have sufficient numbers of musicians represented creation: life and light sparking from a vast nothing? We can delight in the resources of sound provided for us by our God, and explore them with the same adventurous spirit that draws us into uncharted jungles or frozen mountain ranges.
Within that framework, however, we must bear in mind the culture for which we write. We are not alone: we compose for others who cannot. Listeners can be stretched, but we lose them if we extend too far beyond their experience and understanding. For each audience, we must try to bridge the gap between our musical goal and their specific potential to understand. We are part of a community, a body, and must not, for our own well-being, isolate ourselves into our own reality, our own exclusive language, incomprehensible to all but God. It is a heartless composer who presents such exclusive music to a bewildered congregation. Where is compassion for the listener who would like to understand, but has neither the aptitude nor the training to aid him? With sufficient verbal or written explanation, an audience, even a Sunday morning congregation, can receive or even worship through music ordinarily beyond their comfort level. The presentation of the music is all-important. Do we offer our music with disdain for the uninitiated, or patiently teach, so that they too can explore the wonders of God’s sonic universe? In other words, do our attitudes reflect the mind of Christ? Let’s celebrate God’s world, but take our neighbor with us.
Toward an Aesthetic for Concert Music: Another Model
by Michael Kurek
“…His musical world is an intensely traditional one, accented and punctuated by gestures and rhythms of today.” So ended a citation I received in May, 1994, from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Though I pondered exactly what the awards committee may have meant when they chose the word “traditional,” I was pleased that somehow, perhaps, my music had found not only respect but a discernable connection to my Christian world view. Like many composers of my generation, I had struggled for years with issues of style, especially as it related to my faith.
The arguments I had mulled over, like some of the discussion I have seen in these pages, had been primarily formulated in contra-distinction to issues of twentieth-century modernism — whether it is more spiritual to use a chord built in thirds than one built in fourths, whether atonality inherently symbolizes agnosticism, or exactly how much dissonance, if any, displeases God or causes my fellow Christians to stumble. I knew all of these kinds of questions must be on the wrong track, but I did not know with what questions to replace them.
It has only been with the recent rise of postmodernism and the return of tonality among certain younger composers that I have felt able to articulate the aesthetic perspective for which I had been searching so long, and toward which my music had been moving intuitively all along. (I regard my second string quartet as the first of my works to fully crystalize this perspective.)
To explain my perspective, I will make a distinction between musical language and formal syntax, as each relates to the common practice, modernism, and postmodernism.
What makes music “traditional”? Its tonality, harmony, etc., that is, the elements of its musical language? If so, then what we call the common-practice era is really not very traditional, because elements of its language have always been in transition, if not revolution. Beethoven introduced “radical” new elements, in terms of his harmonic and tonal relationships, and so did Chopin, Liszt, and Wagner. Each shocked his first audience but was soon assimilated into the “traditional” repertoire.
From our distance, although each of these composers further enriched the harmonic/tonal language, or the superficial vocabulary, of music, we can see that all operated within a common aesthetic, which is a linear, or narrative, formal syntax, interpreted with a common understanding of its musical meaning.
By this I mean that the most significant thing “traditional” composers have in common is not necessarily their tonal language, but their treatment of a composition as a kind of novel or narrative in which the listener vicariously enters the world of the characters and “believes in” the story, and becomes caught up in the argument or discourse of musical ideas. In music, the listener possessing this belief, this “artistic leap of faith,” in a sense becomes the music and hears whatever dialect the music uses as his own.
Moreover, it was understood that such a narrative had an audible teleology or goal-orientation and that the realization of that goal could impart to the listener (through the delay and/or gratification of implied expectations) an expression of emotion, personality, or even transcendence. (Having read from Langer to the present on the subject, and having experienced this phenomenon, I confess that I still don’t understand exactly how or why “expression” works, but I have no doubt it does.)
It is clear that some twentieth-century composers (e.g., Bartok and Barber) continued to operate within this narrative/expressive tradition, even though, on the surface, they continued to expand music’s vocabulary significantly. Other composers also saw themselves within that tradition (e.g., Schoenberg and various serialists, even to the present) but wrote music so complex that, as Leonard Meyer has pointed out, the aural perception and cognition of its discourse remains problematic. Still other composers of the twentieth century (e.g., Cage) broke with the narrative/expressive model, and adopted either an experimentation/research model or an aleatoric/indeterminate aesthetic (sometimes with a concomitant Eastern philosophy).
I submit that many of the younger generation of post-modern composers working in the 1990’s have been mistakenly assumed by the public to be neotraditionalists, simply because they have tended to employ a tonally consonant, “accessible” language, when in fact they are much more closely related to the avant garde aesthetic of Cage than to neotraditional composers like Barber, in terms of formal syntax.
It seems to have escaped the audience’s notice, so eager are they for any consonance, that these composers have shed the linear, narrative approach to musical form, in favor of an eclectic, collage style — justified, ostensibly, by the noble goal of cultural inclusiveness. The aesthetic implications, for me, are profound:
First, the raison d’etre for these eclectic works often seems to be to display the composer’s cleverness in quoting other works or styles — in other words, “art about art” rather than “art about life,” or caricature rather than portrait.
Second, as I experience some of these works, the constant shift of styles or use of quotations causes the “spell” of the narrative to be broken and the listener to be distracted and emotionally removed from vicarious partici-pation in the drama. One becomes more conscious of the composer himself than of the musical “characters” (materials), as though the composer is saying, “Now I’m composing in this style, now in that one.”
Third, some of these works cynically substitute cheap entertainment for serious art, exploiting the fact that classical music presenters have been increasingly pressured to find short, accessible, contemporary works to program rather than long, dissonant ones. There is nothing wrong with having fun, in its place. Works like Lang’s Are You Experienced? or Daugherty’s Elvis Everywhere have entertaining programs or titles and/or quotations from consonant, tonal styles, including popular music, and may seem to be harmless. But it is the trend toward too many P.D.Q.-Bach-like works that could prove cynical if composers lose incentive to create and to believe in works of more serious purpose. To demonstrate sophistication or wit in commenting on other styles, for the sake of doing so (like moquerie in the literary salons of Versailles), without committing to any style of one’s own, seems to me a loss of faith in the transcendent power of art.
I suspect the real reasons behind the failure of so much contemporary music, regardless of language, to present a convincing narrative may be technical, because it is a very difficult thing to do, and practical, because young composers can be more eager to get a career going than to toil too long in the rigorous study of counterpoint and analysis. The former reason may also account for the latest trend by some composers to imbed their eclectic effects in a post-minimalist texture, which may be the path of least resistance to getting through the chore of writing a longer piece of music, in the absence of any real formal technique or thematic imagination, and where imagination resides primarily in the concept or program notes.
Clearly, any composer who agrees with me about this will feel the burden, as I do, of needing to improve his or her craft, especially to develop better control over “long line,” as Nadia Boulanger called it.
My emphasis on the narrative may sound puzzlingly obvious to people unfamiliar with contemporary concert music — hardly a manifesto — because it is still the approach one can find in most popular media, e.g., television programs — and the public does not particularly correlate the narrative approach with faith in that context. But in the fine arts (as one of my poetry colleagues has brought to my attention), where the narrative approach has often been lost, it is possible to make a correlation between restoring the narrative and restoring artistic “faith”.
Please allow me to emphasize here that I only mean to share how this correlation has been important to me, personally, in formulating an aesthetic compatible with my faith — the concept of Christian liberty prevents me from presenting it as a prescription or litmus test to which other composers “should” adhere. I hope it will contribute to the discussion, of course.
For me, the “artistic faith” I have described must ultimately be connected to my Christian faith. In the milieu of the contemporary fine arts it would be difficult for me to make the artistic leap of faith I have described, to believe in a work, without having any philosophical foundation for believing in anything. Nietzsche said, “I fear we are not getting rid of God because we still believe in grammar.” (He meant we should get rid of God but be able to keep grammar.) I differ from him in that I, personally, cannot believe in grammar without believing in God. Yet I did not invent God to justify my desire for musical grammar, as his rather patronizing statement implies. Rather, I believed in God and in Jesus Christ for other reasons first and then found that it gave me the capacity to believe in grammar as well.
I have a non-Christian colleague who agrees with most of what I have said up to this last point, but who claims the artistic leap of faith itself has the capacity to create meaning without God, which may be why music can be a form of religion for many people — at which point the subject becomes a general discussion of faith in God vrs. existentialism.
I mean to offer these opinions in the same spirit of honest, respectful discourse my colleague and I enjoy. Surely, there are exceptions to all the generalizations I have made, and it is only for lack of space I have not included them. My reason for writing has not been to denounce my contemporaries, even if I have expressed strong opinions (and I hope my comments will not be taken out of context in that way). Rather, my intention has been to differentiate my goals from those of my contemporaries, as a frame of reference, which all artists must do to understand the philosophical foundation and cultural/ historical context of their own work.
MICHAEL KUREK serves as Associate Professor and Chair of Composition and Theory at Vanderbilt University. He is currently an elder at Woodmont Presbyterian Church, Independent, in Nashville, where he has also served as choir director. Michael has received recognition for his compositions from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, and fellowships to Tanglewood and the MacDowell Colony, among others. His music is published by International Music Service and Lyon and Healy, and recorded on New World Records. He can be reached at Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, 2400 Blakemore Ave., Nashville TN 37212, (615)322-7667, . Michael also has a web page at www.vanderbilt.edu/~kurek (this is a case-sensitive address).
Recommended Reading (lots of it!)
CFAMC member LEONARD PAYTON’S essay entitled “How Shall We Sing to God?” in The Coming Evangelical Crisis (John H. Armstrong, editor; Moody Press) is an insightful Biblical discussion of music in Christian worship, with a great deal of emphasis on the role of art music in the Church. Payton successfully combines his perspective as a a conservatory-trained composer with his current position as music director at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. Don’t miss it!
Also, CFAMC member SCOTT ROBINSON recently completed a two-part article on music and Christian worship for Sojournors magazine. The article appears in the September/October and November/December issues of the magazine from 1997. CFAMC is mentioned prominantly in the second part of the article, as which also includes an interview with Mark Hijleh. Robinson has done a wonderful job of bringing together many disparate sources and views on this difficult subject, yet retains a thoroughly Biblical perspective on the question. Sojournors can be found on the internet as Sojournors Online . Check it out!
Finally, we want to call your attention to a new website called Christian Resources in the Arts (CRA) at http://www.wp.com/bynumm/cra.html. This area is updated monthly, with each new edition also being e-mailed directly to subscribers. (There are no fees for this service, and your email address will not be sold to anyone!) CFAMC is now a featured link in the CRA database. Founder and editor Matt Bynum, along with a number of writers in various arts disciplines, have posted many intriguing articles on the site and in the newsletter. Matt saw CFAMC on the Web and emailed us with some very supportive words. Here’s to collaboration in the Lord!
Symphony #1: Into the Face of Eternity, A Personal and Biblical Journey by Mark Hijleh
Reviewed by Walter Saul
As I sat transfixed, listening to this exciting and spiritually energizing new work by Mark Hijleh, so recently birthed into the world by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, a passage from I Corinthians 2:14 immediately leapt into mind: “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (NIV). This must certainly be true of Hijleh’s first symphony, for to listen to this work is, as Hijleh indicates, to take a personal and Biblical journey through beautifully organized sound.
The symphony is cast in four movements: I. Fall (Genesis 3:1-9), II. Absence (Psalm 13:1-4), III. Love (I Corinthians 13:1-13), and IV. Throne (Revelation 4:2-11). These four movements, since they are stages of a spiritual odyssey, do not emphasize high degrees of contrast from one another as much as they continue from each other. Further unifying these movements are cyclical uses of the hymn “Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise,” as well as metronomic markings which tend to be even multiples of 44 beats to the minute, suggesting a common pulse to all four movements. There are also, I suspect, several elements of numerology common to all the movements, such as the recurring 7/4 and 7/8 rhythms (reflecting the completeness of God’s creation in the number 7) and the two opening triads of “Immortal, Invisible” making a clear, audible reference to the Trinity throughout the work.
This journey’s progress, and also the presence of the Almighty God, is depicted throughout the work by the progressive appearances of “Immortal, Invisible.” The first phrase is stated in selected fragments by the opening clarinet solo, highlighting those two opening broken triads. The tragedy of Adam’s and Eve’s fall is dramatically portrayed by the pulverization of this hymn tune in the opening dialogue between clarinet and percussion and then by the ensuing tutti, which pits a menacing rhythmic motive of four, then two, then three pulses against a sinister distorted version of the hymn tune played sul ponticello in the strings. The biting dissonance of two quartal chords set off by a half step completes this picture of the horror of lost communion with the Lord. In a fashion reminiscent of the end of the first movement of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring Hijleh brings this opening movement to a frenzied climax as selected winds and brass frantically try to inject the hymn tune into the maelstrom of the remaining winds, brass, strings, and percussion. The surprising tenderness at the movement’s end is a delightful harbinger of the hope to come.
“Absence” is a beautiful and painful lament: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” Here, Hijleh displays impeccable contrapuntal technique with an opening fugato based, again, on the opening triads of “Immortal, Invisible,” this time upside down, as though displaying the alienation from God. The voices enter at the interval of a tritone, long known as the “devil’s interval,” further enhancing the bleak tonal landscape. Across this landscape comes a countermotive of descending minor and major thirds, a mournful cry. This cry is echoed by a cluster chord in the horns and trombones that sighs from a major to a minor tonality reminiscent of Mahler’s Symphony #6.
The third movement, “Love,” continues the second movement by maintaining the same slow tempo. In this movement the orchestra splits up into various soloists and chamber groups all proceeding at their own different meters and tempi from the rest of the orchestra. This magnificently creates a timelessness suggesting the eternity to come. This timeless effect is enhanced by Hijleh’s use of musical languages from different periods of music: a 20th century free chromaticism, a 19th century romanticism in the solo cello line, the cool reserved style of 16th century polyphony, and the 19th century Welsh melody of “Immortal, Invisible.”
Here is where I have one of only two concerns about the work. While the theological reasons to quote “Immortal, Invisible” in its traditional four-part form with trumpets and trombones are quite clear, I do not think it works musically. My hunch is that “Immortal, Invisible” is used throughout the symphony to represent God’s presence, and that its complete quotation here as a hymn represents God’s complete presence, since, according to I John 4:8, “God is love.” Unfortunately, at least to me, the musical effect here is too blatant, which leads to an effect of banality similar to the second tableau of Stravinsky’s Petrouchka. The hymn thereby acquires a satirical tone which is inappropriate to the wonderful aura of love Hijleh has established so well in the Palestrina-like polyphony of the strings. I cannot help but wonder what the effect would be of a lone trumpet simply stating the melody here, perhaps more softly.
A flute solo, mirroring that of the opening oboe solo brings the third movement to a quiet close, quoting the last four notes of “Immortal, Invisible,” but with a half step at the end instead of the expected whole step.
The finale, “Throne,” opens with precisely the same tempo of the “Immortal, Invisible” quote of the 3rd movement. It is a marvelously energetic and triumphant tour de force, once again featuring the opening triads from “Immortal, Invisible.” Hijleh transforms this cyclic motif powerfully through forming it into brassy tone clusters, as at the beginning, and through augmentation and diminution. Those tone cluster “sighs” from the close of the 2nd movement are now recalled to form brassy fanfares of glory. A seven-tone motif introduced earlier by the brass now dances for sheer joy from one section of the orchestra to another at different speeds, thanks once again to skillful augmentation and diminution. A quiet, slower section recalls the same motifs in an attitude of reverence to this God of Light. Ironically, my second concern about this work reveals a great strength about it: this closing movement is too short! The good news is that we want more of this joy and ebullience; perhaps we want it in eternity! This is a tough judgment call, because I do not want to encourage Hijleh to overstay his welcome, but I would welcome a longer celebration at the end. In this respect, this work hearkens back to the 4th Symphony of Bruckner, whose final chord, though held for fully eight or so measures, seems to stop, rather than end – yet another vision of the eternity that both works so powerfully evoke.
Mark Hijleh, in short, has made a commanding entrance into symphonic literature with a work whose art and craft are a worthy reflection of the Lord he glorifies within its pages. It is a work whose beauty will begin to reveal itself only with repeated hearings. We look forward to future performances and symphonies.