Beauty as a Window upon Truth: The music of our global church of Jesus Christ (including all denominations following the founding notion of a universal Christian Church) now welcomes an enormous range of ideologies, traditions, ethnic cultures and technologies previously unknown and more recently ignored or dismissed. What are we as musicians, congregations and communities founded upon traditional views of the church and its music to do, as we try to carry on the eternal quest for the truth of the Gospel through the window of beauty?
At the 20-year point in his church musical career, and following twelve years of musical service to Toronto’s St. James’ Cathedral, in 2003 Christopher Dawes gave up his Organist and Director of Music position, going fully freelance. Since ending his twelve years in the musical service of Toronto’s St. James’ Cathedral, Christopher Dawes has become Director of Canada’s Summer Institute of Church Music, and maintains a private consulting practice on church music issues, skills and resources. Following consultancies in which he served as Music Director to the Church of St. George-the-Martyr in downtown Toronto and St. James’ Anglican Church in Dundas, he begins a new chapter in his career and ministry as Principal Organist to Timothy Eaton Memorial Church, its Choir School and Radio Ministry.
It would be hard to imagine another church community holding more ideological, ethnic, artistic, socio-economic and urban/rural diversity than the Anglican Diocese of Toronto: this was Dawes’ formational community of churches and colleagues. It shaped him as a church musician even as he shaped the musical life of his many congregations.
By no means did his well-known affection for and mastery of the organ as a musical resource in worship limit him to its exclusive use at St. James’ Cathedral: indeed he was involved in the first introductions and facilitations of jazz, world, praise and many other styles to regular and special usage. However its effective and creative use is a specialty of his own ministry, an area in which many churches and congregations need significant help, and a source of great rewards to communities seeking the elusive means to reach a world saturated with competing voices and messages.
Christopher Dawes’ professional services to churches and congregations include:
- Discussing and advising on musical and institutional change in congregations facing questions
- Private Lessons in Organ Playing, and especially service accompaniment, improvisation and congregational singing
- Consulting on the acquisition or improvement a church’s organ
- Advising and assisting in research and networking within the world of Church Music, and without
- Directing and animating music for special celebrations, or advising church staff on the same
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