catapult magazine

catapult magazine


State of the music arts


Sep 27 2002
01:36 pm

I thought it would be good to contribute to the discussion of music with some of this information gleaned from Chuck Colsen?s ?Breakpoint? program.

There is so much evidence of cultural decline in American art and music
that the committed Christian could spend all of his time pointing out
what is wrong. This is important, but not enough.

Christians also need to offer alternatives — alternatives that show
the goodness, truth, and beauty of the God we worship. One such example
takes place every summer alongside a lake in Indiana: the MasterWorks

MasterWorks is sponsored by the Christian Performing Artists’
Fellowship, which is headed by Patrick Kavanaugh. The group’s
membership is drawn from opera companies, music schools, and orchestras
all across the country.

Admission to the MasterWorks camp, as at other summer music camps, is
competitive-and getting more so every year. As Jay Nordlinger wrote in
a recent issue of the NATIONAL REVIEW, Kavanaugh “can afford to be
picky.” This is gratifying because it means that there are more and
more talented young Christians going into the performing arts. And
those who do get in find themselves associating with Christians who are
among the elite of the musical world.

The instruction isn’t limited to music. Participants are taught how to
more completely integrate their faith with their talent and their
aspirations. They discuss topics like “egomania vs. humility,”
“handling criticism and critics,” “competitiveness,” and “Is your art
your god?”

Once again, this is in contrast to the rest of the music world where
dog-eat-dog is the rule. As one violinist told Nordlinger, at
MasterWorks, “we’re all taking pleasure in each other’s talent.”

Perhaps the most exciting thing that the participants take away from
MasterWorks is the sense that they aren’t alone in trying to combine
artistic excellence with their Christian faith. As Nordlinger puts it,
MasterWorks is the place where “some of the most notable performers and
teachers in the world” “out” themselves as committed Christians.

Among those “outing” themselves is Stephen Clapp, the dean of Julliard,
the most prestigious music school in the world. MasterWorks festivals
have featured performances by artists like the violinist Midori, Steve
Rooks, who is a dancer with the Martha Graham Company, and Broadway
star George Merritt.

One artist who has become a regular at MasterWorks is conductor Jahja
Ling. When he’s not leading the festival orchestra, Ling can be found
conducting some of the world’s greatest orchestras like the Cleveland
Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony.

But his contributions aren’t only musical. Ling, who is vice-president
of a Chinese evangelistic ministry, has also spoken to participants
about the experience of Chinese Christians on the mainland.

As a result of the presence of people like Maestro Ling, participants
come away reassured that it’s possible to be both a committed Christian
and a world-class artist. As Kavanaugh reminds them, the trick is to
remember for whom you’re doing it. He echoes the words of Johan
Sebastian Bach — words he used to sign his music — SOLI DEO GLORIA:
to God alone be the glory.

So three cheers for MasterWorks — not only for helping to train a new
generation of Christian artists, but also for reminding the Church and
the culture that faith and artistic excellence should, and do, go

The BreakPoint “Christians in the Arts” kit includes two books to equip
artists, and those interested in the arts, with ideas and inspiration
for influencing the culture: IT WAS GOOD: MAKING ART TO THE GLORY OF
GOD (Square Halo Books, 2000) by Ed Bustard (editor) and others, and
Steve Turner.

Learn more about MasterWorks.