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Spiritual Dimensions of Music: Meaning, Interpretation and Culture

Monday, March 29, 5 - 7 p.m.

The Institute for Communication and Religion and the Center for Catholic Studies co-present a two-hour roundtable discussion panel exploring how religious traditions receive and interpret secular music. 

During the TEAMS Live virtual event "Spiritual Dimensions of Music: Meaning, Interpretation, and Culture," scholars and artists come together for an open and insightful conversation about secular music, how organized religion has reacted to it, and the sometimes-overlooked spiritual aspects to secular music. The session will probe several key questions, including how does secular art achieve spiritual significance and meaning, how does music articulate and perform spirituality, and what is the relationship between religious traditions and popular cultures?

Event will include time for Q&A.

About the Institute for Communication and Religion 

Launched in Fall 2017, the Institute for Communication and Religion within the College of Communication and the Arts provides a nexus for ongoing scholarly exploration of communication topics critically important to religion and society. Guided by the spirit of ecumenical and interreligious cooperation, the Institute seeks to engage in public dialogue and debate, promote academic inquiry and support the religious dimension of creativity — all while upholding the values of servant leadership, curricular innovation and intellectual excellence.

About the Center for Catholic Studies

Founded at Seton Hall University in 1997, the Center for Catholic Studies is dedicated to fostering an ongoing dialogue between the Catholic intellectual tradition and all areas of study and contemporary culture. In the spirit of the Catholic Church's legacy of bringing forth things "new and old," the Center's scholarly research, publications, and programming serve to generate new initiatives and facilitate conversation and collaboration among faculty, administrators, students, and the general public. The primary function of the Center for Catholic Studies (CCS) is to foster the Catholic mission of Seton Hall in creative ways. 

Register today!

About the Speakers

Ray MancisonRay Mancison is a professional musician, songwriter and former music executive. During his tenure in the record industry, Ray worked at independent and major record labels in radio promotion, artist development and operations, working with artists such as Lucinda Williams, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Steely Dan, MC Hammer, Clay Walker and many others. In 2001, Ray designed a unique business model for an international music production and publishing company. He successfully raised private equity, managed investor relations, and served as company spokesman at major industry functions. Ray worked with top producers, such as Nile Rodgers (Chic, David Bowie) and Kevin Shirley (Aerosmith, The Black Crowes), to develop new artists/songwriters and place copyrights in films and soundtracks. Today, Ray is the creative spark, producer and songwriter behind contemporary country artist, Garden State Outlaws. Currently, Ray is completing graduate coursework in Systematic Theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology. 

Headshot of Alan PaulAlan Paul is a musician and New York Times best-selling author. His last two books – Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan and One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band – debuted in the New York Times Non Fiction Hardcover Best Seller’s List. His first book, Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues and Becoming a Star in Beijing, is about his experiences raising a family in Beijing and forming a band with three Chinese musicians and touring China. Texas Flood is the first biography to feature the cooperation of Vaughan’s brother Jimmie and his Double Trouble bandmates. Paul interviewed almost 100 people for One Way Out, including all surviving band members and many friends and associates, including Eric Clapton. Big in China was optioned for film by Ivan Reitman’s Montecito Productions and hailed by USA Today as a “big–hearted memoir with emotional depth.” Alan Paul is also a musician, fronting two bands, Big in China, and Friends of the Brothers, a tribute to the Allman Brothers Band.

Brooke WhiteBrooke White, an Arizona-born and Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, landed her big break when she was granted a golden ticket on American Idol's seventh season to perform on the nation's biggest stage. Most people attribute White's sound to the golden era of singer-songwriters like Carole King and Joni Mitchell, and she attributes her style to both the music of the 1970s as well as country legends like George Strait, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks and The Judds. White released her fourth album, Calico, in October 2019. A member of the LDS Church, she resides in California with her husband and their two children. 

Gregory FloydGregory Floyd, Ph.D. is the director of the Center for Catholic Studies and teaches in the Core Program. He specializes in nineteenth and twentieth-century European philosophy, in particular, the history and methodology of phenomenology, hermeneutics, and the philosophy of religion. He is co-editor of and contributor to The Catholic Reception of Continental Philosophy in North America (Toronto, 2020) and his recent publications include “The Sense of Phenomenology” in Crossing: The INPR Journal. Volume I (2020) and "Critical Realism, Facticity, and Psychic Conversion" in Intellect, Affect, and God: The Trinity, History, and the Life of Grace (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2021).

Headshot of Jon Radwan.Jon Radwan, Ph.D. is director of the Institute for Communication and Religion in Seton Hall’s College of Communication and The Arts. He earned a B.A. in Communication from the University of New Hampshire, an M.A. in Communication Studies from Northern Illinois University, and a Ph.D. in Speech Communication from Penn State University. His teaching and research focus on the intersection of Rhetoric and Religion, examining how ancient traditions influence contemporary public discourse. He authored the Popular Communication and Religion entry in the International Encyclopedia of Communication and his work has been published in a range of professional periodicals including the Journal of Communication and Religion and the Journal of Media and Religion. Several of his scholarly articles focus on Contemporary Christian Music, and as a bassist he regularly performs and records with New Jersey artists. 

Gloria Thurmond 222 pic Gloria Thurmond, D. Min., is a senior faculty associate in the Music Program at Seton Hall University. She teaches private lessons in vocal music performance, classes in American music history, and classes for all three levels of the University Core. Thurmond is the program director of the University’s Jazz 'n the Hall concert series, which serves as a co-curricular partner with her American music history classes and provides performance opportunities for the Music Program's jazz and musical theatre students. With an interdisciplinary background in music education, vocal music performance, and practical theology, Thurmond is a classical vocal artist and lecturer for the Assisi Performing Arts Music Festival in Assisi, Italy, where she performs opera and sacred vocal music, and where lectures on topics in music and spirituality. She is a cantor and lector at St. Joseph Church in Maplewood, NJ.

Photo of Jason TrammJason C. Tramm, D.M.A., hailed as a "conductor to watch" by Symphony Magazine and "filled with Italianate passion” by the Huffington Post, his work in the operatic, symphonic and choral realms has received critical acclaim throughout the United States and abroad. Tramm currently serves as an assistant professor and director of choral activities at Seton Hall (where he was named the 2017 University Faculty Teacher of the Year). He also holds the following positions: director of music ministries at the Ocean Grove Great Auditorium, artistic director of the MidAtlantic Artistic Productions, and principal guest conductor of the Long Island Concert Orchestra. Pre-Covid he was in demand as a guest conductor, with important orchestral/opera debuts cancelled last summer in Prague, Vienna and Italy. He is the host of "Music Matters with Jason Tramm," a podcast that explores artistic innovation under extreme circumstances, as seen through the eyes of distinguished artists.