The CONCERTed offering 2008

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, except where explicitly attributed.

IN THIS ISSUE:

  • Welcome New Members!
  • Check Your Membership
  • Fellowship Groups
  • Prayer Chain
  • News of Note: Activities of CFAMC Composers
  • Opportunities
  • Recommended Reading
  • From the Editor

WELCOME NEW MEMBERS!

  • ROBERT DENHAM
  • RONALD HESS
  • BRIAN SYKES

Take some time to welcome our new friends into the fellowship and get to know them, especially if they live in your neck of the woods. See the CFAMC web site for contact information. The editor apologizes in advance for any inadvertent omissions.

NATIONAL CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT

The Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers (CFAMC) will hold its national conference on October 10-11, 2008 at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana. All CFAMC members are invited and strongly encouraged to attend! Please keep an eye on the CFAMC website (www.cfamc.org): We will send out a Newsletter addendum when more details are available.

PRAYER CHAIN

The CFAMC email prayer chain waits for your considered participation. If you wish to submit a concern for prayer or subscribe to the prayer chain, send an email to <*protected email*> or visit the “Contact” page of the CFAMC website and click on the link under “Prayer Requests.”

NEWS OF NOTE: ACTIVITIES OF CFAMC COMPOSERS

Not much news of late, but nevertheless: Congratulations! Knowing that we are God’s workmanship, we encourage you to celebrate God’s work as you read about your fellow composers’ creative efforts, and offer thanksgiving for opportunities to bring our music to life.

Steve Hoyle’s church (Good Shepherd Lutheran, Alexandria, VA) heard four of the songs in Mark Hijleh’s cycle, “O Ignis Spiritus,” in services on Pentecost Sunday. Mark’s pieces were part of a newly-written special liturgy for the day, to interweave the music with the spoken texts and prayers of the service, a la “Lessons and Carols”.

OPPORTUNITIES

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. Some of these are culled from the CFAMC email list, and the editor welcomes suggestions for announcements.

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 in submitting a sample of your work, Please contact Bill Vollinger at *protected email*.

ERMMedia (www.numusic.org, www.ermmedia.org) continues to invite submissions for new works of all kinds: Composers may submit scores for solo, chamber, concerti, operatic and/or full symphonic works and full symphonic works with choir & soloists for both projects. Application forms for both projects are available via email at <*protected email*>.

RECOMMENDED READING

If you haven’t seen Jeremy Begbie’s latest book, _Resounding Truth_, consider looking at it. Michael Linton reviewed it recently for _Books & Culture_ (not the best of reviews, but provocative).

Also of interest is a recent article recounting the life of composer Harry Hewitt, found here: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/entertainment/20080629_Composing_behind_closed_doors.html (this article is particularly provocative in light of recent CFAMC conversation: see the editorial below)

FROM THE EDITOR:

Grace and peace be with you, in the name of Jesus Christ!

As the newsletter “goes to press”, a sudden spate of ideas are bouncing across the CFAMC email list in the wake of Bill Vollinger’s engaging address, “Separating the Wheat from the Tares”. In it, and in the responses, are signs of a lively and challenging vision of what the composition of music *could be* about. Bill frames the vision in terms of transforming how we think about the composer’s identity, couched in the most practical and personal of terms—and, somehow, this very personal statement draws what for CFAMC is an unprecedented response on the e-waves.

At the same time, my conversation with another CFAMC member turns toward “personal voice”. As we bounce messages back and forth, I am moved by how deeply the music business feeds on novel and distinctive style-identities, and how deeply-ingrained in even the academic-composer culture is this hunt for THE personal voice which will get attention and sustain sales and commissions and faculty position and some kind of perceived significance.

The book of Ecclesiastes comes to mind: all such achieved success and significance is meaningless (“temporary”, in one recent translation), in light of truly important things—which Bill gets after with his questions, stories, and struggles. Yes, a renewed vision is in order.

We are routinely pressured to forget vision. The desire to have success, to actually have performed some of what we compose, to make the sale and get the commission, leads us into that frustrating arena of the “personal-voice” marketplace. The system demands that we bend our work to fit fleeting, illusory categories; and entreats us to manufacture a unique musical fingerprint so that we will get noticed and purchased. It is so ingrained in our thinking that we are quick to remind each other, “If you want to make it as a composer, you have to be practical and follow the market’s rules.” We implicitly think of personal voice as something we need to find or discover or manufacture.

Bill’s essay joins the call for something different. The Christian’s call to “personal voice” is DIRECTLY OPPOSED to marketplace ideology: “You who would save your life must lose it for my sake,” says Jesus. Paul traces out Christ’s living example of this in Philippians 2, driving home the point that Jesus followed his call toward apparent and real death—but then transforming the vision with the end of the story: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place….” Paul then tells the Philippians (and the rest of us) to pursue the same vision of obedience and sanctification: GOD DOES IT. Yes, we take the process seriously, but not because we have to earn or achieve it. In fact, we might expect that the right path looks deadly or wrongheaded, because the prevailing ideology says, “come down from that cross and save yourself!”

Here’s part of the renewed vision, in the form of a bumper-sticker: “Personal Voice Happens.” Because God, in his grace, as the one who designs and builds each of us, has the good works of our personal voices already prepared in advance. We simply need to show up and cooperate, so to speak. Not by “finding”, but by what seems like “losing”. As I look at Bill’s practice of performing and promoting other composers’ works, I get a glimpse of this renewed vision in action. And all it takes is a concrete example for me to recognize that I’m not there yet. My reflexes still recoil from the apparent “losing,” from the dusty grit of death between my teeth.

Yes, a renewed vision is in order. May we find it, and cultivate it, and steward it. For it is God’s purpose we wish to find, cultivate, and steward. And HE IS doing it, and WILL accomplish it. May we be “transformed by the renewing of [our] minds, so that [we] will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

In Christ’s love and grace,
Andy Sauerwein

(The editor invites comments, and prayer: <*protected email*>)