KEITH CHRISTOPHER

Keith Christopher has been creating beautiful music for sanctuaries and classrooms for more than three decades.  His choral canon includes a great diversity of styles and subjects. From festive anthems to tender songs of of worship and devotion, his music is always characterized by superb craftsmanship.  He is a leading orchestrator and producer and is at the forefront of the sacred music industry.  Recently we asked Keith to answer our questionnaire and share with us a little about his motivation and his process.  EDITORS NOTES:  Make sure to click and listen to some of Keith’s latest publications. 

 

WHAT WAS THE MUSIC OF YOUR YOUTH?

EVANGELICAL/GOSPEL CHURCH MUSIC UNTIL LATE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. THEN I STARTED IN BAND, AND I REALIZED THERE WAS ANOTHER WORLD OUT THERE.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW THAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE MUSIC AS A CAREER?

IN ADDITION TO CONCERT BAND, I SANG IN CHURCH YOUTH CHOIR. IN 10TH GRADE I BECAME THE CHURCH ORGANIST. OUR SCHOOL ADDED A CHORUS MY SENIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL, SO THERE WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING NEW HAPPENING THAT CAUGHT MY MUSICAL INTEREST AND PROVIDED ME AN OUTLET.

WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO NOW?

ABOUT THE ONLY TIME I LISTEN TO MUSIC IS IN THE CAR, AND MY RADIO IS FIXED ON THE LOCAL CLASSICAL STATION. ON A ROAD TRIP, I LOVE TO CRANK UP THE MOVIE SOUNDTRACKS CHANNEL.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAITH JOURNEY, AND HOW IT INFLUENCES YOUR MUSICAL CHOICES.

I’M A VETERAN CHURCH KID, BUT MY CHRISTIAN FAITH HAS BEEN MY GROUNDING, BOTH THEOLOGICALLY AND MUSICALLY. IT ALWAYS POINTS ME BACK TO THE SOURCE OF MY TALENT AND INSPIRATION.

NAME THREE THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF THAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE.

I GREW UP ON A WORKING FARM.
I’M THE AUTHOR OF A BOOK, “THE FIRST CHRISTMAS NIGHT.”
I’M A DECENT HANDYMAN – CAN REPAIR MOST ANYTHING AT HOME THAT BREAKS.

WHAT PROJECTS ARE CURRENTLY ON YOUR HORIZON?

I’M EDITING A CONCERT BAND PIECE THAT WILL PUBLISH IN SPRING 2020. I HAVE A STEADY STREAM OF ORCHESTRATION ASSIGNMENTS FROM PUBLISHERS AND CHURCHES. I WILL BE CONDUCTING A LARGE CLASSICAL ORCHESTRAL RECORDING IN JUNE. AND, IT’S RARE, BUT IF I HAVE DOWN TIME I SIMPLY OPEN THE “WORKS IN PROGRESS” FOLDER ON MY LAPTOP AND START WORKING ON SOMETHING THERE.

WHEN ARE YOU MOST CREATIVE?

MOST DEFINITELY LATE NIGHT. MY FIRST COMPOSITION TEACHER (FRANCIS MCBETH) WROTE LATE NIGHTS, AND WHILE IN HIGH SCHOOL I STARTED FOLLOWING HIS LEAD. PERHAPS IT STUCK, BUT THAT IS SIMPLY MY FAVORITE TIME TO WORK.

WHAT’S YOUR SACRED SPACE?

THAT’S A TOUGH ONE TO ANSWER. CONCERNING WORSHIP, MY SACRED PLACE IS OUR CHURCH SANCTUARY WHERE I FEEL COMFORTABLE AND SEPARATED FROM THE WORLD FOR THE TIME I AM THERE, WHETHER I AM THERE ALONE OR WITH THE CONGREGATION. AT HOME, MY SACRED PLACE IS OUR LIVING ROOM WHICH IS QUIET, SECLUDED, AND RARELY USED. I CAN GO THERE TO LOUNGE, MEDITATE, PRAY, DECOMPRESS, ETC., AS NEEDED.

WHICH COMPOSERS/ARRANGERS INSPIRE YOU?

AS PART OF MY TEACHING, I AM CONSTANTLY STUDYING THE CLASSICAL COMPOSERS. THIS KEEPS ME IN CHECK WITH THE GREAT MUSICAL LEGACY WE HAVE INHERITED. I HAVE A GREAT AFFINITY FOR BAROQUE MUSIC, BUT MY FAVORITE COMPOSER IS LEONARD BERNSTEIN. FOR MODERN CHURCH MUSIC I STAY ABREAST OF A WIDE VARIETY OF WORK FROM SONGWRITERS, COMPOSERS, ARRANGERS, AND ORCHESTRATORS – THEY ALL CONTRIBUTE TO EVOLUTION AS A COMPOSER/ARRANGER/ORCHESTRATOR.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT COMPOSING?

AT THIS POINT IN MY LIFE I TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO BE WITH MY WIFE AND OUR FAMILY WHICH NOW INCLUDES TWO GRANDSONS AND A GRANDDAUGHTER ON THE WAY. THERE’S NOT MUCH THAT INTERESTS ME BEYOND FAMILY AND MUSIC.

WHERE DO YOU SEE CHURCH MUSIC GOING IN THE FUTURE? ARE THERE TRENDS YOU THINK ARE IMPORTANT IN THE CURRENT CULTURE OF SANCTUARY MUSIC?

I HAVE SEEN SUCH A CHANGE IN CHURCH MUSIC IN MY LIFETIME THAT IT IS HARD TO SAY WHERE IT MIGHT BE GOING. FADS WILL CONTINUE TO COME AND GO, BUT THE FUNDAMENTAL CORE OF CHURCH MUSIC IS HERE TO STAY.

WHAT IS YOUR #1 TIP FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?

ALWAYS STRIVE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR CRAFT AND NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR GOALS.

 

LET US ALL SING

OH, HOW GOOD IT IS

WONDERFUL WORDS OF LIFE

LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH

 

Keith Christopher is actively involved in music as a composer, arranger, orchestrator and producer. His musical roots go back to Wylie, Texas, where he grew up playing trumpet in band, accompanying in church, and singing in the church youth choir. After high school, he studied music theory and composition and conducting. He holds a Master of Music in Composition from Southern Methodist University where he was a Graduate Assistant in the music theory and choral departments. His composition teachers include Francis W. McBeth, Newell K. Brown, and Simon Sargon.
His music has been performed worldwide by choirs, orchestras, and bands at places including the National Christmas tree lighting, Hollywood Bowl, All-State concerts, and many other symphony and concert halls and festival stages.
Mr. Christopher has received a yearly award for his publications from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers since 1992. In 1999 he received the famed Gold Record Award for “A Merry Christmas with Brass,” which features The Dallas Brass. In 2003 he received a Dove Award for the choral collection, “More Songs for Praise and Worship.” In addition, he has produced over a thousand recordings for music publishers.

 

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