Re-conceiving Musical Composition

by David Fuentes & Christopher Ashbaugh

Christopher Ashbaugh and David Fuentes discuss conceiving musical composition as a Christian vocation.

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.

David Fuentes is Professor of Composition and Theory at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he composes concert and liturgical music for chamber ensembles, solo instruments, orchestra and chorus. He also writes music for film, dance, television, theater and integrative collaborations with visual artists, here and abroad. Fuentes lectures on contemporary composers, film music, music and faith, and music vocation, and the place of music in human flourishing. He is currently working on Ears To Hear, a book which looks at ways in which people throughout human history have considered music spiritual and demonstrates how Christians might use these to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit. As part of that project, he received a McGregor grant to work with a student researcher on a project titled, “Exploring the Role of Music in Identity, Sports, and Faith Formation.” Fuentes earned a Ph.D. in music, music composition and theory from Brandeis University in 1988; a master of music in composition from the University of Iowa in 1983; and a bachelor of music from Roosevelt University in 1981.

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