Published: Fall 2009
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.
For previous issues of the CONCERTed Offering, see the CONCERTed Offering Archives page.
In this issue:
News of Note
From the Editor
Playing In Tempo
The next CFAMC national conference will take place on October 15-16, 2010, at Indiana Wesleyan University (the site of our 2008 conference). Mark your calendar now and plan to join us! More details will be available as early as February. Watch www.cfamc.org for more announcements...
This space is for the Fellowship to learn more about its members. Submit news items about CFAMC member activities (whether yours or another’s) to the editor for consideration.
Steve Winteregg’s Resolution for orchestra was accepted for publication and rental by Lauren Keiser Music Publishing. Resolution was commissioned and premiered by the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Also, Steve’s Concerto for Tuba was released Albany music on a CD entitled Raw Emotions. It is performed by Tim Buzbee on tuba with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.
Mark Chambers had a performance of his work …glass darkly… at the International Arts Movement Encounter 09 (which was last February), and encourages members to check out the organization (http://www.internationalartsmovement.org) and videos of the performance on YouTube (posted by artmusicsouth in four installments: “opening remarks” and “…glass darkly…” mvt. I, II, and III).
Jesse Ayers’ work, The Passion of John Brown for narrator and orchestra, was performed on October 17 by Akron Symphony Orchestra. Jesse writes, “The concert date is the exact 150th anniversary of John Brown's raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry. This piece attempts to tell John Brown's story, the good and the bad, using Brown's own words, as well as the words of people he knew or met.” About the same time, Jesse’s 3-movement work, ...and they gathered on Mount Carmel, was performed twice by the Wind Orchestra of Concordia University Irvine (CA), and once more for Reformation Day.
Greg Pascuzzi had his extensive reworking of Byrd’s Earle of Oxford's Marche played in a Christmas concert at Avery Fisher Hall on December 13.
Congratulations to Donivan Johnson for receiving the 2009 Humanities Washington Award last June. See www.humanities.org for more details.
Chuck Beck had his choral piece, “Our Roots Run Deep”, premiered on November 29 at his home church, Centenary United Methodist Church (Granville, OH). The piece was commissioned as part of the church’s year-long bicentennial celebration.
AJ Harbison’s song “New Hope” is being published by Kallisti Music Press in Philadelphia, with several other scores to follow. For more details, see www.ajharbison.com.
Member Deeann Mathews is producing a monthly devotional page for CFAMClike the listening page, only focused more on the "Christian fellowship" side. The devotional page invites your submissions: your personal reflections and your song lyrics and poems, along with reflections, poems, song lyrics, hymn texts (public-domain), and the poetry or lyrics of your friends (with permission, of course). The process works like this: Deeann will post a starter idea at about the middle of every month, so members have a two-week span in which to submit responses before the page is posted after the first of the next month. Send responses and questions directly to Thank You, Deeann!
CFAMC continues to encourage its members to get involved in regular fellowship with one another. If you haven’t done so, register your interest or involvement in a fellowship group by emailing Frank Felice, so he can serve as a knowledgeable and informed shepherd to the ministry of fellowship.
In the interest of pondering the art of composition from a Christian point of view, consider Wheaton professor Bruce Ellis Benson’s book, The Improvisation of Musical Dialogue: A Phenomenology of Music. This sounds more pretentious than it actually is. Benson’s writing is both clear and substantial, casting an interesting and at times challenging light on composition, as well as the entire music-making enterprise.
Have you read, seen, or heard something lately which enriched your musical life and thought? Submit a brief review to the editor!
Whether you are involved in an event, organizing a competition, or simply excited about something coming up which might interest CFAMC members, submit your announcements to the editor.
Choral Composition Competition (April 10 deadline): Harold Rosenbaum, conductor of The New York Virtuoso Singers, invites the submission of choral scores for the 2010 Choral Composition Competition. This competition was established in 1988 to promote choral music by living American composers. Recordings are not required, and published works are acceptable. The winners will receive a public performance in New York City by The New York Virtuoso Singers. Further details and application instructions can be found at www.nyvirtuoso.org.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
CFAMC is inspired and driven by this insistent question: How can we be “in the world but not of the world” with regard to composition (and music-making in general, for that matter)? We ask the question in a variety of guises, usually buried in the deeply personal concerns which inspire many of us to seek out the fellowship in the first place. I may be concerned with my sense of isolation, feeling misunderstood or alienated by fellow churchgoers or professional colleagues, seeking out a sense of “Christian” focus for my compositional voice, or any of several related issues. CFAMC was founded to address these concerns, and continues to develop and refine its activities in order to answer the question.
We have a lot of answers. At least, each of us has ideas and convictions. As I write, I am thankful for stimulating conversations over issues of compositional style, problems in the academic world, self-promotion and marketing, theological perspectives…and painfully aware of arguments and unresolved differences among members. We are works in progress, flawed and faltering at times, but by the Lord’s grace we have hope for something better, and strength to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Recently I came across an interview with Jim Donio in the October issue of Electronic Musician. Donio is the president of NARM (The National Association of Recording Merchandisers), and was queried on his assessment of the music industry’s future—a dismaying conversation revolving around “monetizing various experiences people have with music”. Donio reduces music (and people) to an experience of ownership and consumption, talking of “bundles” and delivery formats, piracy and distribution. The industry worldview he presents reduces music and human experience to a disturbing degree, and defines the world of music-making in terms of fans and money. The interface between this and a Christian view of being human and making music is nearly inconceivable, so radical is the difference in definitions and values. Yet we hear the call: “be in the world, but not of the world.”
This isn’t a “pop” versus “art” question. In more “serious” circles, such as so-called “academic” or “concert” music, a similar worldview tension is at work. Composers studying in colleges and universities are tacitly handed a worldview of ego and innovation, where successful commerce depends on writing music which stimulates people to commission more. The composer’s temptation is to define and cultivate a personal voice which will be seen as cutting -edge, compelling people to patronize the composer with commissions, performances, tenure, and enough “monetized” opportunity to not have to teach full time. The terms and values take a different expression than they do in “industry” music, but the two worldviews are strikingly similar.
Yet we hear the call: “be in the world, but not of the world.” When CFAMC, as an organization, seeks to promote fellowship groups, hold conferences, and find other ways to connect and interact, on some level we are trying to answer the call. The programs may seem superficial, in view of the deeply personal challenges each of us face; but that is largely because we fall into the pattern of the world, thinking about how to make ourselves professionally acceptable and successful—whatever the particular shape and style of our professional activity. On some level I am concerned to have people pay me to make more music, and to not go hungry or lose my house in the process.
This skews my musical motivations, and I am weary of having to rehearse my worldview every day in front of the drafting board. But this is the call, to “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” What an amazing promise, that God’s irresistible purpose is to accomplish the very transformation we long for, to answer the hunger which prompts many of us to participate in CFAMC. God will accomplish this purpose, far beneath the surface of activity outlined in this newsletter and the CFAMC web site.
It’s so tempting, though, to stay on the surface—at least for me it is. To follow my musical “worldview” leads me away from “monetizing” my music-making: I feel like I’m losing out, giving up my livelihood, either being “in the world” or being “not of the world,” but not both. God’s promise points toward both, in ways nearly inconceivable. Because God is doing it, it’s worth the effort. We need to keep working together to figure this out.
In Christ’s love and grace,
[The editor invites your thoughts and comments via CFAMC discussion groups or email: or ]
...via the member directory at www.cfamc.org
...join the CFAMC yahoo-group
...join the CFAMC group on Facebook
...at a regional CFAMC conference. Interested in organizing or hosting one? Contact David Davies.
...in person! Who lives near you? Who else is going to the same event or conference?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether you are “chained up” or not, you’re welcome to submit prayer requests to the same address, which will then be distributed to the chain via email.
Conveniently archived at www.cfamc.org, each page features music and commentary by a CFAMC composer. Take time to listen and you will be richly rewarded with engaging music, thoughtful commentary, and (most of all) the ongoing opportunity to appreciate (and encourage) one another. Contact Bill Vollinger if you would like to participate.