Christian Asplund | School of Music
Sacred Music and the Punk Rock Ethic


Christian Asplund is a Canadian-American composer-performer (on viola, harmonium, piano, electronics) based in Utah, where he is a professor at Brigham Young University. He cofounded Seattle Experimental Opera, which has produced seven of his operas. He has performed with such musicians as Christian Wolff, Eyvind Kang, Larry Polansky, Daniel Good, Francois Houle, Michael Bisio, Robert Reigle, Tom Baker, Greg Campbell, Jessica Lurie, Amy Denio, Gino Robair, and Phil Gelb in a variety of venues and recordings in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia. His scores are published by Frog Peak Music. He appears on CDs on Tzadik, Present Sounds, Sparkling Beatnik, Maritime Fist Gleeclub, and Comprovise Records.

His book on Christian Wolff, coauthored with Michael Hicks, is published by University of Illinois Press, and he has published articles in Perspectives of New Music, American Music, and the festschrift, Joel-Francois Durand—In the Mirrorland (University of Washington Press). He is an associate editor at Perspectives of New Music.

Asplund has received commissions from many prominent performers and ensembles, and has received grants and awards from CalArts Herb Alpert Awards, Genesis Foundation, Barlow Endowment, Artist Trust, King County, Jack Straw Foundation, and ASCAP.

Of his music, Stuart Dempster has said, “Asplund, in his well-crafted compositions, delightfully teases us on those slippery slopes between composition and improvisation,” while a jazz reviewer has said Asplund’s music “walks a squiggly line that passes through jazz…, free improv, rock, funk and a whole spectrum of ‘modern classical’ styles, including minimalism, serialism and a handful of other ‘isms’…” Other words used by the press to describe his music include: passion, panoramic power, pure pointillist, plaintive, painstaking, rhythmically toothy, rocking, remarkable, rollicking, searing, subdued, soothing, submersive, splendid, unique, enjoyable, ethereal, mesmerizing, mind-blowing, otherworldly, absorbing, intelligent, idiosyncratic, distinctive, captivating, and bewitching.

Faith + Works Lecture Series | Christian Asplund

BYU Music professor Christian Asplund discusses how many music composers including himself see music as their calling. He explains that expressions of faith aren’t limited to a church context.

BYU Music Christian Asplund professor explains that anything persuading someone to believe in Christ comes from God. Asplund also affirms that uplifting music comes from the sincerity and intent of the artist, regardless of genre.

Sacred Music and the Punk Rock Ethic

December 7, 2017 Lecture

Professor Christian Asplund characterizes the rock music that preceded the punk rock era as “burdened with an ironic sluggishness, brought about by its disconnection from live performance.” It was an era supposedly promoting “casualness, spirituality and individual freedom” but in reality portrayed “stiffness, materialism and conformity.”

“When punk rock came along in the mid to late 1970s,” Asplund said, “it felt like a liberating force to many of my generation who were on the outs with the prevailing culture.”

Read more here >>

To see other lectures from this series, visit the Faith + Works Lecture Series home page.