On my birthday, some of Sowerby's organ music

Sunday, July 10, 2022 was my 79th birthday and starts my last year being < 80. I am a few months behind Biden, and ready to let David Hogg, 22, be president (hahahaha!) OK, maybe Tim Pool?

caption: My own piece, "Losing It", performed Aug. 2016 on Austin Organ First Baptist Church Washington DC

Back in 2016, Dr. Lon Schreiber, organist and choirmaster (approximately my age) sightred a hymn-like composition of mine, in B-flat, that fits into a scheme for a planned cantata (I had outlined it on the old Bill’s Media Reviews now taken down, and have been preoccupied with web restructuring the past couple of months, so I haven’t gotten back to talking about it yet, but I will). The piece was called Losing It, and has a Twin Peaks like feel when played in the woodwind registers on the organ. (Maybe, 'losing it all'.)

I might be a convenient piece to explore just intonation with, but there only a few pipe organs in the world with the extra keys (mostly in Italy). It sounds easier to do with electric instruments (and I haven’t looked into how you would do it with Casio's, etc, but I suspect it is possible.)

As the communion service postlude Schreiber performed a 10-minute piece by Leo Sowerby (1895-1968), Holiday Trumpets. It seemed episodic with lots of whole-tone chromaticism and dissonance, with a basic tonality of A Minor – Major at the end. It almost reminded me Ravel in spots.

I could not find it on YT, in fact there is little Sowerby organ music on YT, maybe a family estate copyright issue or something.   . 

There is a 3-movement Symphony in G Major for Organ (1930) that runs about 50 minutes, a rather large work. The overall style is a mixture of post-romanticism and French impressionism, but with more common, abstract forms common more in Germanic music, and capable of building rousing climaxes generally belonging to other styles.

Caption: Sowerby, organ symphony in G, first movement, Whitehead performs

The first movement, rather an animated slow movement with melodrama that settles to a quiet end (17 min.   A 1989 recording shows William Whitehead playing at the Washington National Cathedral.

The second movement and third movements are available on small UY channel played by Mark Stotler at the University of Kansas.  The second movement is marked “Fast and Sinister” is intended as a big scherzo, in E Minor, ending triumphantly in E Major. The finale is a Passacaglia, on a slow ground bass that picks up steam and works toward a triumphant, fugal coda, in G. You can find these movements separately on YouTube.

(Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2022 at 2:30 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)