Sacred Music Graduate Student Awarded Scholarship

Author: Emily McConville

dekker_300 Chris Dekker

Chris Dekker, an organist in Sacred Music at Notre Dame’s Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) program, has been awarded a scholarship from the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts.

The scholarship recognizes an undergraduate or graduate music student who intends to pursue a career in sacred music and who demonstrates “evidence of exceptional musical or artistic talent, effective leadership ability, and outstanding promise of future usefulness to the Church.”

Dekker said he is very honored to have been recognized in this way. “Not only does it positively affirm my work, but it serves as a catalyst to move forward with confidence in the future.

“During the course of my Notre Dame studies and beyond, I intend to pursue my music and scholarship in a way that affirms the Fellowship’s decision.”

A graduate of Hope College and Central Michigan University, Dekker said he came to Notre Dame for his doctorate degree because of the “stellar reputation” of the Sacred Music program, and particularly to work with Craig Cramer, professor of music and award-winning organist.

“Craig’s teaching has really been revolutionary,” Dekker said. “The faculty members in sacred music are incredible and very well-rounded, so it’s been a real blessing to study with them.”

The Doctor of Musical Arts is a three-year, fully funded program for organists or choral conductors. DMA students receive rigorous training in areas such as musicology, ethnomusicology, historical performance practices, Church music traditions, theology, and music in interdisciplinary arts. The program challenges students to position the music they perform in its religious context as well as its historical, theoretical, aesthetic, and social dimensions.

In addition to coursework, each doctoral student gives a yearly recital and writes a thesis. Students also complete paid internships to enhance the music ministries of local churches.

A second-year Ph.D. student, Dekker said he is considering working as an organist at a church or cathedral or teaching organ at the college level once he completes his degree. While he is not yet certain which path he will pursue, he said he is “confident that opportunities will abound” because of the excellent reputation of the program and the real-world knowledge he is acquiring.

Led by world-renowned scholars, and supported by major grants from the Lilly Endowment and the Mellon Foundation, Sacred Music at Notre Dame is reinvigorating sacred music through new graduate programs and initiatives such as the Notre Dame Children’s Choir and the Sacred Music Drama Project.