Composing for the Organ

Workshop led by Frederick Frahm – November 16, 2019

A dozen members of the Chapter met together  for a workshop on composing for the organ, with Member, and past Dean of the Chapter, Fred Frahm, at St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church in Albuquerque, where they have recently installed a refurbished historic organ.  (see page on this website: St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church)

Fred is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University where he earned degrees in Church Music and Organ Performance. He studied organ and counterpoint with David Dahl, Gregory Peterson, and Randall McCarty; composition with Gregory Youtz (PLU), Gary Smart (University of Wyoming), Walter Pelz (Concordia University, River Forest), and Roger Briggs (Western Washington University). A significant portion of his extensive catalog of music is in print and is represented worldwide by more than a dozen publishers. A collection of his early sketches, manuscripts, recordings and correspondence are archived in the Mortvedt Library at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA.

An active performer, Frederick Frahm regularly performs organ recitals in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and as organist and celestist for the New Mexico Philharmonic and Santa Fe Symphony Orchestras. The composer also works with select students in music composition, organ performance, and improvisation.

Fred Frahm explains his method for composing a variation on a well-known hymn tune

The first basics are what kind of sound quality you want – whether shimmering, or austere, or strong, or gentle, solemn or playful, etc.  Then take a phrase from the tune you are using, and try re-using it in a variety of ways.  He demonstrated using the hymn tune, “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland.”

Hymn Tune20191116

Use of tune elements20191116_0001

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Choral Prelude on tune20191116

Choral Prelude on tune20191116_0001

Listen to Fred playing this new Chorale Prelude on the St. Thomas organ:


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