PhD MA BMus LRAM
Chris has been part of the Theology, Music and Worship department at London School of Theology since 1997 and a faculty member since 2009. Since then, he has developed and taught two undergraduate modules, Integrating Theology and the Arts and Understanding Music, which introduce students to interdisciplinary studies in theological aesthetics and music theology. These courses navigate ecclesiastical boundaries, encounter diverse historical and modern sources, and explore the philosophical, practical and theological questions of artistic creation, transmission and reception. Chris is also module leader for performance studies in the current Theology, Music and Worship programme. As part of the department’s new revalidated programmes, launching in September 2022, he will be leading and teaching two new undergraduate modules: Christianity and the Arts, and Music, Philosophy and God, as well as teaching on the History of Music in the Church module (predominantly from the mid-Patristic era to the Gothic age).
Chris completed his PhD in June 2021 through the Open University, having been awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) scholarship. His doctoral studies revolved around the French Thomist philosopher Jacques Maritain, possibly the most significant Catholic intellectual of the mid-twentieth century. His research explored the idea of musical beauty from a Thomistic theological and philosophical perspective. From Maritain’s revolutionary aesthetic works, as well as Aquinas and Patristic sources, he constructed an account of musical creation that is pertinent to the modern era, whilst overcoming enlightenment definitions of beauty and remaining tradition-constituted. Chris’ principal research interests are in aesthetics, theories of beauty and/or any stimulating conjunction of philosophy, theology and art—particularly music. He is a Thomist, and his outlook and method is firmly located in the realist tradition, not out of historical curiosity, but rather as a vibrant and fertile habitat for intellectual and spiritual knowledge. Chris avidly believes in giving students the freedom to enquire and question.
Having studied music from childhood and at the Purcell School of Music, Chris trained at the Royal Academy of Music, specialising in harmony and composition, with principal studies on the violin and viola, and second study on the piano. Later, he completed an MA in Music Education at University College London. Chris also worked in secondary music education for over 20 years, teaching academic music, directing chamber orchestras and teaching the piano and violin. Outside LST, Chris gives talks on theology and music, poetry and painting (theological aesthetics for the layperson). He has an abiding love for the English metaphysical poets, and jazz music—and he is the regular pianist for the London Jazz Vespers Project based at Westminster Central Hall. Chris describes his most scary musical experience as accompanying the late-great vocalist Annie Ross in a packed, smoke-filled club ‘back in the day!’ Chris is married to Liz, a nurse, and they have 6 children aged from 9 to 26, a Whippet called Albert and an impossibly busy schedule.
Reason Hears: Music, Goodness and the Virtuous Aesthetic Experience. American Maritain Association 45th Annual Conference, 2022, DeSales University.
Maritain and Music: Developing a Thomist Philosophy of Music. Postgraduate Research Seminar, Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts, 2022, St Andrews University.
Realist Solutions to the Problematic of Music and the Ineffable. American Maritain Association 43rd Annual Conference, 2020, Franciscan University and Byzantine Catholic Seminary of SS. Cyril and Methodius.
Thomist Foundations for a Theological Aesthetic of Musical Beauty. Theology, Creativity and the Arts, Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, July 2019, Cambridge.
Thomist Foundations for a Theological Aesthetic of Musical Beauty. American Maritain Association 42nd Annual Conference, 2019, DeSales University.
Understanding Tragedy Truthfully: J.S. Bach’s Zerfliesse Mein Hertze. Plenary at American Maritain Association 42nd Annual Conference, 2019, DeSales University.
Musical Beauty, God and the Church: Early Historical-Ecclesiological Contexts. Music Research Conference, 2019, The Open University, UK.
Four Events in the Life of Christ in Poetry and Painting: Donne’s La Corona. Public lectures, Michaelmas, 2017, The Parish Church of St Michael, Highgate.
The Musical Aesthetic Inside Maritain’s Notion of Poetic Knowledge. American Maritain Asssociation 40th Annual Conference, 2017, Notre Dame Seminary, New Orleans.
The Melodic, Harmonic and Rhythmic Decline of Vocal Memory in Congregational Singing. The 3rd Biennial Christian Congregational Music Conference, 2015, Ripon College, Cuddesdon, Oxford.
The Dynamics of Knowing: Process in the Experience of Composer, Performer and Listener. The Society for the Study of Theology Annual Conference 2010, Manchester University.
- The American Maritain Association
- Society for Christian Scholarship in Music
- The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
- PhD (Philosophy and Music), Open University, UK
- MA (Music Education), University College London
- BMus Hons (Music), London, Royal Academy of Music
- LRAM Royal Academy of Music