A child of the late twentieth century (b. 1963), I dedicated a large part of my life preparing to become a musician and teacher in the Western art music tradition. I took piano lessons from age seven and played French horn in my school band. I studied formally at the Peabody Conservatory (DMA, composition, 1991), Ithaca College (MM, composition and conducting, 1987), the University of Missouri - Kansas City (doctoral work in conducting, 1987-88) and William Jewell College (BS with honors in music, with additional studies in theology and integrative liberal arts, 1985). I taught music, theater and English in a small inner-city Catholic girls high school for three years before being appointed as a professor in the Greatbatch School of Music, Houghton College (NY) in 1993 (where, in addition to teaching music theory and composition, I was orchestra conductor from 1995-2005). Along the way I picked up some honors, too - a representative sampling includes: first prize in the 2002 National Association of Teachers of Singing Art Song Composition competition, appearances as composer and conductor with the Buffalo and Rochester (NY) Philharmonic orchestras, and hearing my music performed at the Kennedy Center and at Oxford University (UK), where I also spoke in the Holywell Music Room. In 1994 I founded the Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers (see www.cfamc.org), and in 2001 I wrote a little book about Christian theology and Western art music - The Music of Jesus: From Composition to Koinonia, available at Amazon.com.
However, my view of music and education in the twenty-first century changed forever in 2004. While attending a conference at Baylor University, at which I presented a paper on Christian theology and contemporary Western art music, I heard Joel Carpenter (then Provost at Calvin College in Michigan) give a most remarkable talk about the twentieth-century explosion of global Christianity and its implications for the future. I spent two years contemplating globalization from various perspectives, and came to the firm conviction that the future of music and culture was not what I had been trained to believe it would (or even should) be.
To help me gain further understanding about the musical implications of this perspective, I took another graduate degree, this time in world music studies (MA with distinction, University of Sheffield, UK, 2008). I started studying the shakuhachi, an ancient Japanese bamboo flute. And I commenced a huge project that will likely consume the rest of my professional career: developing and propagating new musical theories and methods that assist students in the analysis, creation and performance of diverse musics in a world tuned to global synthesis. To this end, my newest book Towards a Global Music Theory: Practical Concepts and Methods for the Analysis of Music Across Human Cultures is now available from Ashgate Publishers. I also maintain a discussion about world music theory at globalmusicianship.com.
At Houghton College, I am taking a hiatus from teaching undergraduate and graduate music composition and theory, as well as music in cultural studies, to serve as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. My ongoing realizations about where we are and where we are headed have profoundly affected everything I do professionally, and, increasingly, personally as well. As one who is a follower of Jesus Christ, my thoughts and feelings about this go beyond the realm of conviction into the realm of what might be referred to as a "calling." In short, I believe we need to significantly rethink how we educate musicians--and, really, all students--to thrive going forward. We need to help students become highly flexible, deeply cosmopolitan and strongly oriented toward thinking about culture as synthesis.
I continue to compose music for concert, worship and media venues, trying to reflect
global musical awareness in all my musical output. I also conduct a local community orchestra in Olean, NY.
And last, but not least, I want you to know that I am married to an extraordinary woman, Kelley Hijleh, who, in addition to being an outstanding singer and voice teacher, is a spiritual mentor to many (including me) and a superb mother to our two amazing kids, Hannah and Noah. Those three people alone are proof of how good God really is.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also maintain profiles at LinkedIn, Facebook and on Twitter @globalmusicguy.