MA, BMus (London), LRAM
Chris has been part of the Theology, Music and Worship department at LST since 1997. Over the last decade, he has developed and taught two undergraduate modules – ‘Integrating Theology and the Arts’ and ‘Understanding Music,’ which explore the territory between Christian theology, philosophy and the (fine) arts: an interdisciplinary field known as Theological Aesthetics. Crossing ecclesiastical boundaries, students encounter diverse historical and more modern sources, engaging with the philosophy, practice and especially theology of artistic creation. He also supervises M-level postgraduate students in this field. Chris is module leader for the performance components of the Theology, Music and Worship programme at LST, he leads the performance skills seminars, and heads up the end-of-year recitals – a highlight in the department year.
Chris is currently completing his PhD at the Open University, having won an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) scholarship. His doctoral thesis revolves around the French philosopher Jacques Maritain, the most important Catholic intellectual of the mid-twentieth century, and it explores the notion of musical beauty from a scholastic (Thomist) theological and philosophical perspective. From Maritain’s aesthetic works and drawing from Aquinas, he is reconstructing a philosophy of music that is tradition-constituted, theologically orthodox, and which overcomes enlightenment definitions of beauty and subjectivity.
Having studied music since childhood, Chris trained originally at the Royal Academy of Music, specialising in harmony and composition, with principal studies on the violin/viola and second study on the piano. Later, he gained a distinction for an MA in Music Education at University College London, Institute of Education. As well as his work at LST, Chris taught in secondary music education for well over 20 years, teaching A level academic music, directing chamber orchestras and other ensembles, and teaching the piano and violin.
Outside LST, Chris gives talks on theology, music, poetry and painting – theological aesthetics for the layperson! He has an abiding love of jazz music and he is the regular pianist for the London Jazz Vespers Project, based at Westminster Central Hall. He still teaches the violin and the piano. He is married to Liz, a nurse – they have 6 children aged from 7 to 24, and a Whippet called Albert.
- ‘The Line Means Exactly What it Says.’ 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 speaker 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.’ The Parish Church of St Michael, Highgate, Michaelmas Term 2017.
- ‘The Music Aesthetic Inside Maritain’s Notion of Poetic Knowledge.’ American Maritain Association 40th Annual Conference, 2017, Notre Dame University.
- ‘Can’t Sing, Won’t Sing: 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
- The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham