“We consider this a missionary training ground,” Kavanaugh would say of MasterWorks. It was hosted in its early years at Houghton College in New York, then at Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind., then at Cedarville University for one year. (The festival is scheduled this year for Converse College in Spartanburg, S.C.)
“He really had a heart for students,” said Karen Hill, a clarinetist with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra who has served on the MasterWorks faculty. Hill, a board member of CPAF, said the festival also impacted faculty members, who cherished the opportunity to build friendships with fellow Christians working in the classical arts.
“We ministered there, but we were ministered to as well,” she said.
Although Kavanaugh retired as festival director in 2016, he continued to be involved in music: Just last month he conducted the New Mexico Philharmonic in performances of Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven.
Kavanaugh was born and raised in Nashville, Tenn. His teenage passion was football until, during his high-school years, someone gave him a guitar. He took to the instrument “like a duck in water,” he later said. He went on to earn degrees in musical composition, and authored several books, including The Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers.