LeAnne Martin
Christians in the Arts

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Delta David Gier: Authenticity

Today I’m concluding my interview with Delta David Gier, Music Director of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (www.sdsymphony.org), assistant conductor for the New York Philharmonic, and Assistant Artistic Director of Soli Deo Gloria (www.sdgmusic.org), which is dedicated to preserving, promoting, and enhancing the classical sacred music repertoire
in the biblical tradition.

LM: You have a long list of accomplishments. Name one of the highlights of your career.

The New York Philharmonic debut pretty much tops the list. I have an ongoing relationship with them that’s very satisfying. Last season I conducted one of their Young People’s Concerts. The host cancelled so at the last minute I found myself hosting and conducting. It went so well, though, that next season I will be conducting all of them. It’s very exciting to be a part of such a creative team. We are doing some cutting-edge stuff there, some great music.

LM: Do you have any advice for other Christians in the arts?

That question makes me think of a conversation I had with Brennan Manning, who wrote Ragamuffin Gospel. I corresponded with him a bit when I was on the road doing a tour of Carmen. I was alone for several months. I read 8 or 9 of his books and found them very inspirational because he focuses on authenticity, particularly in prayer. He came to Brooklyn for a week of meetings one year and I went to see him. I was able to chat with him a couple of times and here’s what he said (I’ll never forget it): “With prayer, there are 2 cardinal rules: Pray as you can, not as you can’t, and there’s no such thing as a bad prayer.” I’ve held onto that ever since.

It sounds simple but it’s true: be yourself. What makes the most impact on people is your own walk with God and allowing that to influence your work. Never shy away from asking tough questions. If you’re performing a work of art and you feel uncomfortable about it, engage in authentic talk about it—yes, with Christians but also with nonChristians. Talk about your struggles with it. It will give an authentic representation of your own walk with God. People respond to that so much more than pat answers. None of us has all the answers. It’s about relying on God, listening to the Holy Spirit, and being honest.

Coming soon: dancers, musicians, a culture expert and more

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