The Old Rugged Cross (for String Quartet)

In my opinion, these are some of the most powerful lyrics ever set to song, depicting the Christian faith.  I hope you enjoy this arrangement for String Quartet. 

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suffering and shame
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

Oh, that old rugged Cross so despised by the world
Has a wondrous attraction for me
For the dear Lamb of God, left his Glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

In the old rugged Cross, stained with blood so divine
A wondrous beauty I see
For the dear Lamb of God, left his Glory above
To pardon and sanctify me

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

To the old rugged Cross, I will ever be true
Its shame and reproach gladly bear
Then He'll call me some day to my home far away
Where his glory forever I'll share

So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

Brass Quintet #2

It was a great honor to recently have my Brass Quintet #2 performed by the Lone Star Brass of the Midland-Odessa Symphony & Chorale at the Wagner-Noel Performing Arts Center.  Along with being excellent musicians, the piece was played by super-nice guys, some of whom I have had relationship with for decades.

I wrote Brass Quintet #2 approximately 13 years ago, and was pleased to have its premiere April 3, 2016.

The piece is written in four contrasting movements.  Mvt. 1 is Renaissance-like, Mvt. 2 is aggressively contrapuntal, Mvt. 3 is peaceful with a hint of jazz sonorities, and Mvt. 4 is motivically cumulative, finishing with a bright 16-note passage.

I hope you enjoy listening.

Gelukkig (for String Orchestra)

I wrote "Gelukkig" for the UTPB String Ensemble, directed by my father, Thomas Hohstadt.  I had a fairly short window of time to write the piece this past summer, and did most of the work flying home from a trip to visit family.  I wanted the piece to be fun, so I integrated a jazz-swing style, using classical construction techniques of thematic development.

The 'slow' section of the piece is more melancholy, by way of contrast, and the work ends in a spirit of triumph.

Since jazz influences stem from Africa, and I wanted the work to be mostly 'happy', I looked for the word 'happy' in Africaans, hence "Gelukkig".

I enjoyed attending and coaching the UTPB ensemble in their process of learning it.  I am proud of the work they gave to put it together.  For many of them, this was their first encounter with a modern classical style, and they seemed enamored with the idea that they were playing something written by someone they had gotten to know.  As a result, in the concert, I felt their sincerity and desire to 'give it their best'.

Hope you enjoy!

America the Beautiful (for a cappella ensemble)

Here's an arrangement I wrote for this past year's Patriotic service.  It's probably the most challenging lines I've written for the group, to date.  I finally had a chance to mix it down.

Hope you enjoy!


Go Tell It (for a cappella vocal ensemble)

Here's an arrangement of the popular Christmas song, "Go Tell It On the Mountain" I wrote for this year's upcoming Christmas.  While I was preparing the practice vocal tracks for Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass, I sang each part in a range that fit my voice, which turned it into a 'male' (barbershop) arrangement.  I thought it sounded fun, so I went ahead and mixed it down.

Hope you enjoy!


We Win (Drops of Blood)

Here's a song I wrote for this year's Easter services.  I just now had a chance to mix it down.  Hope you enjoy it!


Drops of Blood upon the ground

and with thorns, He wore the crown,

as He carried the weight of all my sin


Driving spikes into His hands,

unrecognizable as man,

He cried out and all creation saw His end.


Now that darkness had its cost,

and ev'ry hopeful day was lost,

placed into the ground,

carried to a bed of rock,


Descending in to regions only known to death,

surrounded in the lies of all unrest,


Separated from the Love

and ev'ry thing from up above,

He became the curse that I deserved.


And when the debt was paid,

the wind of Heaven came,

and burning light came blazing through the door.


For the gates of hell shall not prevail

against the love that tore the veil.


Heaven's eyes toward us

are filled with tears of grace,

and a longing to behold us face to face.


With a blazing light and burning pow'r,

radiation filled the tomb,

as a New Creation, and a brand new Nation

came forth from Heaven's womb,


He's alive in us, and we're alive in Him!

All of Heaven now proclaims,

"We win! We win!"

"We win! We win!"


He is alive, He's ruling in His power,

We are alive in Him!

Ev'ry pow'r is put now beneath Him,

We declare, "We win!"


Heaven's gates are opened wide,

All His life is now inside.

Light and life are here to stay.

Ev'ry blessing shines today.


He is alive, He's ruling in His power,

We are alive in Him!

Ev'ry pow'r is put now beneath Him,

We declare, "We win!"


Heaven's gates are opened wide,

All His life is now inside.

Light and life are here to stay.

Ev'ry blessing shines today.


We win! We win!

We live in Him!

We win! We win!


We win!

Sonata for Violin and Piano

Here is a recording of the four movements of my first Sonata for Violin and Piano.  All the movements are thematically united by the opening few notes of the violin in the first movement and, by extension, the derived quartal harmony.  Stylistically, I suppose the work could be categorized as 'neo-classical', with the third movement patterned on the 16-bar blues.


O Holy Night (for SATB Choir, Piano and Orchestra)

Here's a unique original composition/arrangement to this beautiful song, incorporating a different version of 'O Little Town of Bethlehem', as well.  Hope you enjoy it!

(This performance was taken from Odessa Christian Faith Center's Christmas Eve Production in 2013, directed by Stephanie Carter.)

A Jolly Merry Christmas (for a cappella choir)

Now that Christmas is past and I've had time to 'harvest' some of our recordings of performances, I was pleased with this quite difficult a cappella vocal ensemble piece.  It's sort of a 'mash-up' of fragments of familiar Christmas songs (i.e. "Deck the Halls" and "Jingle-bells"), but not really using any complete melody.

I consider it to be more of an original composition than an arrangement, using Classical techniques of linear motivic patterns in a Jazz swing style.  At times the clashing harmonies drove my vocalists crazy, when we were working the piece up.  The group performed for memory and learned the piece as much from audio recordings as from the sheet-music score.

Hats off the the hard-working praise vocalists of Odessa Christian Faith Center, bringing it to life.  As I was part of the team, my experience was one of exhilaration, knowing that if one section got off track just a little bit, the whole thing would have was a little like riding a toboggan down a steep hill wondering if we were all going to fly off at some point!

Hope you enjoy!  

Christmas Fantasy Overture (for full orchestra)

This work was originally conceived based on the simultaneous use of two themes: 1) Joy to the World (in C Major), and 2) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (in D Minor).

Christmas Fantasy Overture- JTW and GRY simultaneous mel..jpg

I was waking from sleep one morning imagining the two melodies happening simultaneously in these two key areas.  At that time my main objective was to capture the thought by writing it down.  I hadn't yet discovered why the melodies worked well together, or why I had imagined them in two separate tonal centers. 

I then began the process of extracting fragments from each theme- melodic, harmonic and rhythmic. 

Following is what I obtained from ‘Joy to the World’:

Christmas Fantasy Overture- JTW theme.jpg
Christmas Fantasy Overture- JTW extractions 1-4.jpg
Christmas Fantasy Overture- JTW retrogrades.jpg
Christmas Fantasy Overture- JTW rhythmic patterns.jpg
Christmas Fantasy Overture- JTW retrograde 2.jpg

Christmas Fantasy Overture- JTW textural pattern.jpg

I then began building cluster harmonies based on the melodic fragments.

Christmas Fantasy Overture- JTW cluster harmony.jpg

I created a cyclical ‘chord progression’ based on the melodic fragments of quartal harmonies to be used in an accompaniment ‘rhythm section’ punctuation of the melody.

Christmas Fantasy Overture- JTW cyclical prog..jpg

I then began extracting patterns from ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’, as follows:

Christmas Fantasy Overture- GRY melody.jpg
Christmas Fantasy Overture- GRY derived patterns.jpg

I noticed that quartal harmony was evident in this melody as well as ‘Joy to the World’.

Christmas Fantasy Overture- GRY quartal harmony.jpg

The following rhythmic pattern became useful in building energetic syncopated passages.

Christmas Fantasy Overture- GRY rhythmic patterns.jpg

I then discovered the reason both of these melodies worked so well together in their different tonal centers, and it surprised me.  My ‘ear’ had imagined it, but until now I didn’t really know why it worked, but here is the reason: the basic construct of the ‘Joy to the World’ melody is C,A,G (in the key of C) and the basic construct of the melody ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ is D,F,G (in the key of D Minor).  Both condensed melodic fragments, amazingly, are inversions of one another.

Christmas Fantasy Overture- JTW and GRY inversion.jpg

I began using this pattern with harmonies derived from the thematic fragments of both melodies.

Christmas Fantasy Overture- JTY and GRY inv. with harm..jpg

There are scaler differences between the two melodies and their corresponding traditional harmonic treatment.  Taking these differences creates a chromatic theme.

I finally created a ‘combined’ new melody using intervallic fragments of both melodies.

Christmas Fantasy Overture- JTW and GRY new mel. construc..jpg

Throughout the work I tried to contrast the two melodies, almost in disagreement with one another, finally merging them into a ‘unified’ theme.  Also the difference between the tonal center of C versus D is resolved at the end, as the ‘Joy to the World’ theme ultimately jumps up to unite with its D rival, causing the main tonal center of the work to shift from C to D, which also is motivically derived from both melodic themes.

The UTPB Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Thomas Hohstadt (my father), worked diligently to prepare the work, but the concert was cancelled due to an ice storm.  Fortunately, we were able to obtain a good recording from the practices.  I greatly appreciate everyone's hard work!

Antiphony (for Cello and Piano)

I recently had the privilege of having this piece premiered at Texas Tech by cellist Jeffrey Lastrapes.  I began writing the work back in 2001, as Lastrapes, a member of the Lindsayan String Quartet, had recently performed my "Vignettes for String Quartet", and suggested the possibility of my writing a recital piece around 7-10 minutes in length.  

I immediately began working on it, but after a computer glitch in the Finale file rendered a portion of the work inaccessible, together with Jeffrey moving to NYC and my usual busy schedule, I shelved the project. 

Several years later, when I heard that Jeffrey had moved back to Lubbock, I thought I would try one more time to open the file, now with a later version of Finale, and to my amazement, the file was retrievable, so I finished the work within a few weeks in 2005. 

After 10 years from its origin the work was premiered.  Not only was I elated to hear it played, but also was glad to put a 'check-mark' next to a completed project.

I love Jeffrey's playing, which I endeavored to highlight in the compositional process. He's a great musician and a great friend.  


To purchase sheet-music for Antiphony, click here

Changing Seasons (for SATB choir and String Quartet)

Here is a modern classical composition I was recently commissioned to write for SATB choir and string quartet, premiered April 20, 2013.

It is based on the seasons of the year, with the choir and string quartet featured during the primary seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter, and the string quartet alone featured in the transitions between the seasons.  It is written in 8 short movements: I. Winter to Spring, II. Spring, III. Spring to Summer, IV. Summer, etc.

At times there are up to 10 independent lines happening simultaneously in what I call 'linear multi-tonality', each part/line functioning in its own unique mode or key.  In one instance the Sopranos and Basses are in C Dorian, the Altos in A Locrian, the Tenors in F Dorian, I Violin in F Locrian, II Violin in C Phrygian, Viola in Eb Whole-tone, and Cello in Eb Ionian/major.

I searched for existing poetic text to use, but felt uncomfortable with trying to fit musical ideas to those texts, so I chose to write my own libretto.  With a background of 25 year's experience as a music minister, having written hundreds of songs for worship, I felt comfortable creating the union between the almost folk-like melodies and the lyrics as a foundation for the work, in many places using 'word-painting' in the musical interpretation to complete the original melodic ideas.

"Changing Seasons" was given a favorable review at its premier by Ronald Bennett of the Odessa American:

The voice writing was interesting in its rhythmical intricacy, its intelligent use of singable ranges and its unusual juxtaposing of the texts between the vocal parts. At times the quartet was leading the chorale and other times the chorale seemed to be leading the quartet. The instrumental writing for the quartet was also idiomatic and showed the composers mastery of string writing.

The overall effect was one of buoyant energy that exuded from the singers and the quartet and left the audience thrilled with the work as witnessed by a spontaneous standing ovation.

We are fortunate to have such a talented composer in our midst!


Changing Seasons

©2013 Lowell Hohstadt

I. Winter to Spring (Quartet)   

II. Spring                    

The springtime harshness

of ice and snow,

melting away to grasses

beneath the cold.

The bird’s small voices,

they seem so loud

against the forces

of many clouds

Bringing the rains of springtime,

bringing the rains that come never alone,

among the thunder and

wind blowing!

The snow is melting,

the streams, they flow,

bringing the waters

that grow and grow,

Bringing the strength

of rivers,

bringing the strength of a mighty expanse

flowing to oceans,

broad and bold.

The springtime harshness

cuts as a knife.

The call has come to awake,

to arise to new life!

III. Spring to Summer (Quartet)         

IV. Summer                

Heat, hot, work, sweat and

heat, hard work, blazing brightness!

Small breezes greet the fevered brow

like a kiss from

springtime past,

but now

Heat, hot work, sweat and

Blue sky,

as puffy clouds float by,

a shadow obscures the sun’s

Heat, hot, work, sweat and

heat, hard work,

blazing brightness

Wanes ever slowly to dusk,

lengthened shadows,

an ev’ning breeze,

one star, then two,

in time a multitude

looking down upon a

weary soul unchained

from responsibilities,

from the heat of day.

Morning dawns quickly,

bringing again the

Heat, hot, work, sweat and

heat, hard work, blazing

heat, hot, work, sweat and

heat, hard work, blazing


V. Summer to Fall (Quartet)   

VI. Fall                       

Leaves turning colors

of red and yellow,

briskly cool air

across the faces.

Times of the harvest,

bountiful places,

memories come

from journeys gone by.

Melancholy feelings;

gladness mixed with sadness,

knowing the days are

shorter, darker.

Fresh gusts of wind

blow the leaves away,

hurrying down the path’s

winding way.

Spiraling, whispering

that the time has come

for the bareness

of the branches.

Past splendor,

leaves of grandeur

fallen to ground

amidst all the laughter:

Children playing

and trampling,

stomping, raking,

gathering piles.

Cold wind blowing,

changes coming,

days of past gone by,

Looking to end the journey.

Night is falling,

peace has come,

release from the day.

The time has come now,

resting from life now.

Peace has come.

Peace has won.

VII. Fall to Winter (Quartet)

VIII. Winter                

Here we are

no hope of summer,

endless days

without number.

Half awake,

half of slumber,

coldness, darkness,

nothing younger.

Days of sorrow,

days of pain

fade from mem’ry

once again.

Icy feelings

cloud the sky,


days gone by.


then morendo,

away slips life

on sheets of ice.

Bring me life

of days gone by,

break the darkness

of the skies!

Burst the fetters

of this rest,

bring the shatter

of distress!



Crack the ice

of sorrow’s lies.

Bring me springtime,

bring me rain!

Bring the sunshine

hope again!

New life comes,

new life happens

with a violence

of the change.

Changing seasons,

changing grace,

new life here

begins the race.

The springtime harshness

of life and growth

has overcome,
life has won:

Life has come!