The CONCERTed offering 2006

In this issue:

  • Welcome New Members!
  • CFAMC National Conference Scheduled for Fall 2006
  • News of Note: Activities of CFAMC Composers
  • Reading and Listening: A Review by Jerry Casey
  • Opportunities
  • From the Editor




CFAMC is delighted to announce its next national conference, to be held Friday, September 29, through Sunday, October 1, 2006, at Northwestern College (Orange City, IA) in conjunction with the Iowa Composer’s Forum. Our host for this event is percussionist and CFAMC member Dr. Marc Wooldridge. As part of the conference, Dr. Wooldridge will present a new program of commissioned works titled “The Sacred Percussion Project” that reflects the Christian faith of the composers, along with a panel discussion. Other conference events include four additional concerts of CFAMC and ICF members’ works, paper presentations, the annual CFAMC Board meeting, social events, and much time for disucssions and fellowship. We invite you to prayerfully consider attending this exciting event. Watch the CFAMC website for further information.


Congratulations to one and all! Knowing that we are God’s workmanship, we encourage readers to celebrate God’s work through members’ creative efforts, and offer thanksgiving for opportunities to bring our music to life. Here are some recent reports:

Jason Bahr is the winner of the third annual Northridge Composition Prize (sponsored by California State University, Northridge), and his prize-winning orchestral work was premiered on March 18, 2006, by the CSUN Symphony under the baton of John Roscigno.

Jerry Casey reports the premeire of her vocal work “Celebrate the Song”, commissioned by the Saturday Music Club (Columbus, OH) and performed by the Centennial Ensemble on December 10, 2005, at their Centennial Banquet, celebrating their 100th anniversary. Also, on April 1, 2006, at the Sigma Alpha Iota Province Day in central Ohio, there was an hour’s reading session of a number of her chamber, piano, and vocal works.

Dwight Gustafson has written a Christmas opera, “Simeon”, in collaboration with librettist David Burke, head of the Bob Jones University Interpretative Speech Department. The one-act opera received a full stage production by the Bob Jones University Opera Association and the BJU Symphony on December 8-10, 2005.

Frank LaRocca’s “O Magnum Mysterium” was performed in the Washington National Cathedral by the Cathedral Choral Society under the baton of Reilly Lewis, with instrumentalists from the National Symphony Orchestra, at the CCS Christmas concerts in December 2005.

Larry Mumford’s “Set Free,” a piece he originally wrote for orchestra, and then rescored for symphonic winds at the request of the City of Chicago Symphony, is being premiered Sun. May 21 in Oakbrook Terrace. Details may be found at <>.

Andy Sauerwein composed incidental music for Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” and conducted it for a nine-performance production of the play by the Belhaven College Theatre Department in March 2006. The music was commissioned by director Joseph Frost.

Greg Scheer’s work for string orchestra, “5”, was premiered on May 16th by the Linn-Mar Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Joshua Reznicow, at Linn-Mar High School (Marion, IA).

Adam Sovkoplas’ work “Time” has been selected to be performed at the 2006 CMS South Central Conference in San Marcos, TX. It will be performed by a fellow SHSU student, pianist Adam Wiggins. The score is available from .

William Vollinger is once again involved in the Annual Choral Composers’ Readings Workshop held by The Gregg Smith Singers this coming July. Seethe “Opportunities” listing below for more details.

READING AND LISTENING: A Review by Jerry Casey

David Bennett Thomas: Chamber Works (Capstone Records)

From the first to the last note of this collection of wide-ranging chamber works the composer reaches out to the listener with warmth, passion, and true lyricism. I was particularly struck by the Blake Songs for soprano, alto, tenor, bass, and piano. Here is true vocal chamber music–independence of voices in the best traditions of the piano quintet. Quite delightful is the juxtaposition of the two poems, “Little Lamb” and “Infant Joy.” Both poems ride the wave of surging energy in the piano to the sudden close on “God bless thee Little Lamb.”

Juliet allows the listener to relive the gamut of Juliet’s emotions from, “My only love sprung from my only hate!” to “O, happy dagger, this is thy sheath.” With the firm grounding of the organ and the violin singing in true lyrical romanticism as Romeo the voice of Juliet rises, falls, soar, sinks, always communicating her heart. The addition of the tubular bells in the final movement turns this movement into a somber funeral march as is fitting for those final words, “There rust and let me die.”

The opening of “Piano Sonata #2” is filled with angular driving energy. The music seems constantly to ascend and expand. Even the quieter sections never lose that energetic feel. The closing march-like section continues its abandon until the sudden surprise of quiet final chords.

“The Steeples in My Soul: Movements for Alto Flute” is inspired by words of Emily Dickinson. The composer mines the rich low register of the alto flute in a style that feels like improvisation going from meditation to joyous abandon to ascending to the “Steeples in my Soul.”

The five movements of “Sonata for Cello Solo” begin with “Robust” where lyrical sounds escape dissonant quadruple stops. Then comes “Lament” with its somber extended melodic line of heart-wrenching sadness. “Galloping” is all pizzicato; the title tells it all. “Elegy” features dark chords from which rise occasional dirge-like melodies. “Vivace” is a mad scramble.

Perhaps my least favorite is the “Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano.” I liked the last movement best with its grand opening, energy galore, and surprise ending.

All of the performers are outstanding and the recording itself is superb. In the liner notes Gregg Smith is quoted, “The essence of Thomas’ music, to me, is that it is heartfelt and deeply expressed.” I heartily concur.

–Jerry Casey, February 2006


Although CFAMC is not a clearinghouse for conference and competition announcements, we do like to point out a handful of interesting and unusual events which might interest members. Many of these are culled from the CFAMC email list, and the editor welcomes suggestions for announcements.

“Scholars Coming to Faith: Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of C. S. Lewis’s Conversion” will be held on July 20-22, 2006, at the Airport Hilton in Kansas City, MO. The conference will be a critical dialogue on conversion, and the conversion of academicians in particular. Plenary speakers include Charles Colson, Phillip Johnson, Art Lindsley, Mary Poplin, and Gordon Smith. Hosted by the International Institute for Christian Studies and Christian Studies International of Canada, this is being touted as “The Christian Worldview Conference with a Global Vision.” For more information, visit , call 1-800-776-4427 or email <>.

The Gregg Smith Singers announce their Eighteenth Annual Choral Composers’ Readings Workshop at Saranac Lake, New York (34th Year of The Adirondack Festival Of American Music), from Monday, July 10 to Sunday, July 16, 2006. A composition will be rehearsed and digitally recorded for each composer with commentary offered during each 50-minute reading by the Singers. This summer we are offering an extended Composers Readings Workshop under the supervision of Gregg Smith with associate conductors Dale Jergenson & Fred Thayer. Enrollment in workshop is limited to the first 20 composers to apply. The Workshop fee is $250. for further information or to register, please contact: The Gregg Smith Singers, 42 Custer Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10701. Phone (914) 376-8899, email <>. CFAMC’s own William Vollinger is among the composers-in-residence.

The Berkshire Children’s Chorus invites submissions of original chorus compositions. Instrumentation is SSA chorus (treble chorus) with piano accompaniment. Additional instruments and or soloists may be considered. Works with a performance history are eligible. Works using protected texts must be accompanied by a letter of permission from the publisher. Prize: $250 and a performance of the composition during the 2006-2007 BCC season. Berkshire Children’s Chorus is the premiere children’s chorus in Western Massachusetts. Primarily grades 6-9, the BCC performs regularly throughout the year and tours often. We are looking for original compositions which will fit with the ability and age level of our chorus members. Submit four copies of the full score as well as any performance history of the work. Include with the scores brief biographical information of the composer and contact information including name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address.Recording on CD or cassette is optional (including a full performance, a piano demo, or MIDI demo). Materials will be returned if a SASE is provided. Send materials to Berkshire Children’s Chorus Composition Contest, P.O. Box 18, Sheffield, MA 01257. All scores must be postmarked by September 1. Questions should be directed to Clive Davis, president of the board, at 413-229-1110 or <>.


Would you be like to prepare a CFAMC listening page of your music? Would you like to share your God-given talent with your Christian colleagues? The CFAMC listening page goes out as an e-mail to those in the CFAMC e-mail discussion group on Yahoo (plus some other people) in the middle of each month, with an mp3 audio link and an explanation. If you are interested, this would require on your part:

1. Your choice of a composition of yours, preferably not more than 10 minutes long, either as an mp3 attachment to an e-mail, or as a CD mailed to:

Bill Vollinger
21 Ruckman Road
Woodcliff Lake, NJ 07677

Please do not use “snippets” (short excerpts of pieces). Complete pieces, or movements, or longer excerpts, are preferred. The mp3s are streamed on Bill’s audio hosting service by a link on the listening page e-mail, and are not downloadable. Each piece is linked to a URL address on the monthly CFAMC listening page, which is kept active for at least three months after your page goes out. They are recorded at 32 kpbs, making it easier for those with slower dialups to listen. Sending the following in the body of an e-mail to Bill Vollinger (not as an attachment, since I use a Mac).

2. Correct title(s) and names of the performers of your music

3. A description of the piece

4. If it’s vocal, a text, which if it’s in another language than English, would include both the original language and an English translation.

5. A statement of your faith

6. A brief bio

7. Your e-mail address and website URL

All this material, plus links, is assembled by me and sent back for you to proofread first. One final (but minor) request, try to avoid the use of quotation marks and apostrophes, as the two symbols sometimes get electronically mistranslated on other people’s e-mails.

If you do not subscribe to the CFAMC email discussion group, please sign up with this Yahoo! e-group by scrolling down to the bottom of the main page of the CFAMC website site: <>. This is a valuable service to keep our geographically scattered Christian composer members “in tune” with each other. If you’d like to see our latest listening page, go to <>. Please contact Bill Vollinger at if you’re interested.


The newsletter is late, again.

As I observe the past academic year, I see a lot of shortcomings in my efforts as a teacher, a composer, a husband, a father, a follower of Christ, and a CFAMC newsletter editor. The cup of my achievements and accomplishments is more than half-empty, though I wish it were full.

Thankfully, none of that really matters, compared to the surpassing greatness of Christ, whose accomplishment of salvation exchanges my cup for a different one, which is always running over. And, in fact, mine has been spilling all over the place in many ways. My first year at Belhaven College has seen a revised music-theory curriculum, the birth of a composition/theory degree track, the first concert of the newly-established Belhaven Composers Forum, an enthusiastic first-year theory class (!?), and a host of other things confirming God’s work at Belhaven. It’s been a wild adventure, as much as academic life could be seen as adventurous, and I find the successes unaccountable in terms of my own half-baked contributions. God set the scene before I arrived, and I simply had to show up each day and attempt to cooperate. I have been blessed and encouraged to hold such a cup in my furry paws.

At the same time, my own cup is still before me, chipped and leaking. Do you relate to this, at all?

The CFAMC leadership is seeing spurts of renewed vision, as we contemplate what the Fellowship is about and what cup of blessing God would like us to cooperate with, as it were. At the same time, we are plagued with distractions, inattention, and bouts of uncertainty — our own leaking cups. We know, though, that God is the author of this Fellowship, and on this faith we are excited to see His cup in our hands, running over.

The conference in September will be a blessing, cracked cups and all, inasmuch as we show up and attempt to cooperate with the Lord’s purposes. He calls us to fellowship, to “sharpen” one another with encouragement and challenges offered in love — and God only knows the need we have all felt at some point or another for such fellowship. September is a priceless chance to put flesh on our relationships, to get to know one another better, to bear one another’s burdens, to spur each other on toward love and good works (especially compositional works).

This summer I seek to re-establish a daily habit of composing, largely lost in the last few years. So far, I’ve managed less than a twenty-five-percent success rate. When I drink from this cup, I am dismayed by persistent thirst. Jesus hands us a better cup, though, one which somehow catches the drips from ours and shows us what kind of a cup we will inherit soon, when he renews heaven and earth. When I drink from this cup, I taste his good work, and see that less-than-twenty-five-percent in a different light: a thread of the unaccountably glorious music God is composing with a sure hand.

So, drink! “Taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the one who trusts in Him.” Chariots and horses ain’t in it.

I hope to see you in September. Grace and peace be with you, in the name of Jesus Christ.

-Andy Sauerwein

A Publication of the Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers (CFAMC)
Andy Sauerwein, editor
NOTE: The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of CFAMC, nor of the editor