Musicians in Part-Time Employment

By Krider, Dale | The American Organist, May 2013 | Go to article overview

Musicians in Part-Time Employment


Krider, Dale, The American Organist


ORGANISTS AS COMPOSERS

IN an earlier article, I wrote about organists who had other professions, nonmusical ones in many cases. Today I am writing about two composers in the Washington, D.C., area whom I have known for some time and who have had great success in their work in composition.

It is certainly not unusual for an organist to compose. Several names come to mind: Buxtehude, Couperin, Bach, Vierne, Widor, and Duruflé, just to name a few. I spoke recently with Kenneth Lowenberg and Wayne Wold, and following are their answers to some questions I posed. Ken has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a full-time church musician in Washington, D.C. Now retired (I use that term loosely!), he substitutes almost every week, composes, and still plays recitals and leads workshops. Wayne has been a full-time church musician but presently teaches theory, composition, organ, and harpsichord, and chairs the music department at Hood College in Frederick, Md. He has a unique organ position in that he plays at Camp David, the presidential retreat center in Maryland.

When did you first try your hand at composition?

K.L.: Actually, about the same time I began to study piano, which was second grade. I would make my own manuscript paper, drawing the lines very carefully. I would write something and then play it on the piano. It was great fun and something that I have continued to do all my life, except now I don't have to draw my own manuscript paper.

W.W.: I began piano lessons at age five, and started writing out my first pieces in the second grade. I improvised even before I learned to read music, and I have never stopped.

You are both published composers; when did you get your first work published?

K.L.: I was in high school when I sent something to a publisher - not a wellknown publisher at the time. They must have liked my little piece and published it. That gave me the encouragement to write more.

W.W.: I was in college before I sent anything to a publisher. I did not have my first piece published. I spent quite a bit of money on postage and envelopes before receiving my first acceptances.

Now that you have enjoyed being a published composer, what would you say have become your specialties?

K.L.: Most of my compositions are choral music (adult, youth, and children's choirs), then handbell music, and some organ. Having been a full-time church musician for more than 40 years, I am very well acquainted with what works well for choirs. I also directed handbell choirs, so I know their capabilities firsthand. …

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