Music in Toronto . . .
A glimpse of things to come ?
From the sound of African and Indian drums to the muted strains of the traditional and classical, music helped create the festive feel of a truly global multi-cultural spiritual gathering as the church convened its 57th world conference in Toronto this summer. While to many, the colorful musical collage spelled a tolerance for a healthy robust global and generational celebration of musical diversity, for others it was an uneasy experience, a disturbing display of what they perceive as an ongoing musical apostasy.
Was the music heard in Toronto the emerging sound of worship in a new millennium? Is an acceptance and even a cross-fertilization within this diversity a requirement if we as a church are going to become a truly universal brotherhood? Should acceptable musical diversity be determined only by comparison with the traditional western classical standard? Or should non-western music be allowed to stand as a genuine and pure expression of the culture from which it comes?
And what of the newer music of the younger generation in our midst? Should all of it be condemned? Or, are there elements in some of that music that may contribute to an evolving worship music suitable for the generations that will follow? And how can the older generation dialogue with the younger about these changes in a productive way?
Is the only solution to "cleanse the temple" of all impurities and restore that which was? Or is there, in reality, no going back? Rather than railing against the influences of modern and global culture, should we be looking for ways to shape attitudes and opinions in constructive and creative ways?
And that is where IAMA can play a role by serving as a forum for discussing the issues and talking about ideas that can help each of us meet the present challenge. Final answers will always be elusive when discussing music, given its many dimensions. Even so, as long as we as musicians, pastors, and members can continue to talk and listen to one another, we have a chance to positively affect the course of music and worship in our church.
In the following articles, printed in the Summer/Autumn 2000 issue of IAMA's publication Notes several persons who were there express their reactions to and views about the music at Toronto. Also included is a response to that cluster of articles, A Personal View, which was printed in the Winter/Spring 2001 issue of Notes.
Dan Shultz Editor, IAMA Publications