Using Ancient Texts in Music

by Rev. Ivan Moody, Frank La Rocca & Christopher Ashbaugh

Frank La Rocca, CCCA Fall 2014 Visionary-in-Residence Ivan Moody and Christopher Ashbaugh discuss the use of ancient religious texts in musical composition.

Chris Ashbaugh has a B.M. in composition from Capital University and a M.M. from Butler University. His teachers have included Rocky Reuter, Mark Lochstampfor, Tony Zilincik, Tom Zugger, Dina Lentsner, Michael Schelle, and Jeff Stadelman. Chris’ music consists of a variety of sacred and secular works, mostly chamber in nature. His emerging style includes various twentieth-century techniques, freely mixing harsh dissonance, consonant lyricism, and indeterminacy. A frequent conductor of his own works and others, Chris has conducted world premieres of music by Michael Schelle, Zae Munn, Sue Dellinger, Adam Betz, Amanda Seyler, WillTrachsel, Megan Drevits, and Forest Christenson. His music has been performed by various groups including the Capital University horn and clarinet choirs and the Jordan College of Fine Arts Composer’s Orchestra, for which he was a frequent conductor and performer. In the spring of 2012 he conducted the premiere of a chamber opera with original libretto, Death and Taxes, at Butler University. Recently, his interest has turned to oral tradition studies with an emphasis on music-making at the cusp of literacy, especially in Germanic cultures like the Anglo-Saxons. Chris received the 2nd prize in the 2009 Ruth Friscoe composition competition as well as the 2009 award for best in show and is a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda music honors fraternity. He is currently studying for his PhD in composition at SUNY Buffalo under a University Presidential Fellowship.

CCCA Fall 2014 Visionary-in-Residence
Ivan Moody was born in London in 1964. He studied composition with Brian Dennis at London University (winning the Royal Holloway Prize in 1984 for his Three Poems of Anna Akhmatova), and privately with Sir John Tavener. He later studied Orthodox theology through the continuing education centre of the University of Joensuu, Finland, and is currently pursuing postgraduate compositional work with William Brooks at the University of York. He lives at present in Estoril, Portugal, with his wife, the singer Susana Diniz Moody, and two children, Sebastian and Sofia.

Ivan Moody's music has been broadcast in many countries, and has been featured on the Finnish television programme Jeesuksen syntymäjuhla and in Britain, on both Channel 4 and BBC television. His work has been featured particularly at the Tampere International Choir Festival (Finland), the Musica Sacra Festival in Maastricht(Holland), the York, Thaxted, Little Missenden, Presteigne, Spitalfields and Byzantium in London festivals (Great Britain), the Mafra International Music Festival, Estoril, Leiria and Capuchos Festivals (Portugal) and the Byzantium Festival in Plovdiv (Bulgaria).

As a writer, Ivan Moody contributes regularly to Gramophone, International Record Review and Goldberg (of whose editorial panel he is a member), and has published a substantial number of articles on contemporary and early music in Contact, Composer, Musical Times, Contemporary Music Review, Anuario Musical, Revista Portuguesa de Musicologia, Plainsong & Mediaeval Music, Jacob's Well, Choir and Organ and Tempo.

Frank La Rocca draws upon influences as diverse as Josquin, Byrd, Stravinsky, George Crumb and Arvo Pärt and his music has been described as possessing a “luminous beauty” with “a profound sacred sensibility” and as “a modern evocation of the radiant spirituality of ancient chant.” His catalog includes works in nearly all genres, with a special emphasis on a cappella sacred choral works. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and California Arts Council, and his awards include Second Prize in the Foundation for Sacred Arts Music International Composition Competition, ASCAP Young Composers Award, and Grand Prize in the Vanguard Voices Choral Competition. His music is available through his publishers, Boosey & Hawkes, Walton, and Santa Barbara Music Publishers, and directly from the composer.  La Rocca has been Professor of music composition and theory at CSU East Bay since 1981, and is an Artistic Director and past Executive Director of Composers, Inc. of San Francisco.


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