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 snow-balled...it 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

In the Bleak Midwinter

"In the Bleak Midwinter" is a Christmas carol based on a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti written before 1872. It was published posthumously in Rossetti's Poetic Works in 1904.

The poem became a Christmas carol after it appeared in The English Hymnal in 1906 with a setting by Gustav Holst

This is my own arrangement, with some moving lines and fresh harmonic motion set to a folk harp accompaniment.   "In the Bleak Midwinter" was directed at Odessa Christian Faith Center by Stephanie Carter, December 23, 2012, with Kathy Hohstadt playing harp.

Hope you enjoy it!

 

Noel

Here is a piece I wrote for Christmas using a poem by Anne Porter for the text.  It is in a modern classical style for SATB a cappella choir.  I endeavored to interpret the meaning of the poem musically, showing the stark difference between mundane traditions and that which is truly inspired.   Noel was sung by members of the Odessa Christian Faith Center choir, directed by Stephanie Carter, December 23, 2012.  Hope you enjoy! 

 

Noel

When snow is shaken
From the balsam trees
And they're cut down
And brought into our houses

When clustered sparks
Of many-colored fire
Appear at night
In ordinary windows

We hear and sing
The customary carols

They bring us ragged miracles
And hay and candles
And flowering weeds of poetry 
That are loved all the more
Because they are so common

But there are carols 
That carry phrases
Of the haunting music
Of the other world
A music wild and dangerous
As a prophet's message

Or the fresh truth of children
Who though they come to us
From our own bodies

Are altogether new
With their small limbs
And birdlike voices

They look at us
With their clear eyes
And ask the piercing questions
God alone can answer.

"Noël" by Anne Porter, from Living Things. © Zoland Books, 2006.

 

What Child

A very unique version of "What Child Is This", orchestrated from an electronica track I made earlier this year.  Hope you enjoy!

(UTPB Orchestra, directed by Thomas Hohstadt, at the Wagner-Noel Performing Arts Center during the UTPB 2012 Christmas Concert.)

What Child Is This/ Do You See What I See

Here is a unique arrangement of these two well-known Christmas songs, put together in an unusual way.  Hope you enjoy!

(This was performed by the UTPB Orchestra with a combined choir from surrounding regional high-schools during the University's Christmas Concert at the Wagner-Noel Performing Arts Center.)

Vignette (for lever harp)

Here's a unique composition I wrote for my very talented wife who took up the lever harp little more than a year ago just for fun.  The interesting thing about a lever (or 'folk' harp) is that each note can be adjusted to sharp, flat, or natural.  I thought it would be interesting to write a piece that every note below Middle C was tuned to C Major, and every note above Middle C tuned to Ab Major. 

Here's what came out.

Vignette (for lever harp):

(performed by Katherine Hohstadt)

You Are My God (I'm jumping off)

(recorded by the Odessa Christian Faith Center music ministry)

Here's a recent song I wrote about trusting God when you step into new territories.   Even when things may be unfamiliar, foreign to us, it's going to be OK when we just learn to trust Him.  He'll keep us safe and He'll guide us, navigate us where we need to go.

Hope you like it.

You Are My God (I'm Jumping off) (©2012 Lowell Hohstadt) 

I’m jumpin’ off into the deep

That’s where my life is truly free

I’m livin’ life eternally

That’s where my heart is meant to be

 

I trust You, You only

I love You, You hold me safe

in all I am and all I do

 

Living my life to love You

Living my life to worship at Your feet

 

You are my God

You are my God

You are my God

You are my God

 

Here I will trust You

Here I am near You

Living my life with You

I’m holding onto You  

Leaning ev’ry part I am to You

 

 

We Win

(recorded by the Odessa Christian Faith Center music ministry)

“And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” (Col. 2:13-15) 

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:37-39) 

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith.” (I John 5:4) 

It is evident that Christ has won the victory for us, both now and to eternity, in which we can confidently say, “We Win!”

 

We Win (©2011 Lowell Hohstadt)

In the darkness You shine Your light through

In the battle Your ev'ry word comes true

In the chaos You shine Your glorious light

With You on our side, we win the fight!

 

All the victory here

comes from victory there

All the promises here

You brought us the victory hanging on Calvary!

 

Takin' a walk of faith ev'ry day now,

Talkin' talk of grace, as I look in Your face

Set my eyes on things above this world

With You on our side, we win

 

We win, we win,

We win, we win,

We win,

We win the fight!

 

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Here's a string quartet arrangement I wrote using the melody from the hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."

(purchase entire string hymns album)

The hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, written by Martin Luther, has had wide-spread influence throughout Christendom, having been used by many well-respected musicians throughout history, starting with J.S. Bach in his chorale cantata “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” (BWV 80). 

Other well-known composers include Dieterich Buxtehude, Johann Pachelbel, Felix Mendelssohn, Claude Debussy, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and more recently jazz pianist Bob James.

The message of God’s protection is as ancient as the Scriptural texts from which it is inspired.  Having faith in His capacity to protect and defend us against all forces that would attempt to bring harm to our lives is foundational to the Christian faith.  This protection even defies death itself: “That through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” (Heb. 2:14-15)  “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?” (I Cor. 15:54-55)

This conviction is not only relevant for eternity, but also for our daily existence, as the following two passages reveal a truth beneficial to our personal relationships.

“The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe (set on high)” (Prov. 18:10)

“The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted” (Prov. 29:25)

The words “safe” and “exalted” in the Hebrew are the same word: sagab, which means to be inaccessibly high, having the connotation of security, a place of safety to the one fleeing or to the one at rest in a fortified height which would be inaccessible to beast and enemy alike.

How many people curry the favor of various communities and leaders, only to be let down in one way or another.  “Many seek the ruler’s favor, but justice for man comes from the Lord.” (Prov. 29:30)

Eventually, man’s ideas, communities, governments, authorities and protection all fail.  But there is an absolute foundation of strength and power to those who unite to Him by faith.  “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we may confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What shall man do to me?’” (Heb. 13:5-6)

Throughout the ages, thousands will attest that He is faithful to all who put their trust in Him.  “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (Rom. 10:11)

 

 

 

 

The Songs of Christmas in America

 

Christmas, by its very definition, is a special day about Christ.  With all the history that surrounds celebrating Christmas (some secular, some sacred) it’s interesting to see the progression in America over the past few decades in how we view the holiday. 

Nothing shows the common mindset of the nation better than the songs popular with each generation, the songs of Christmas. 

Although “Silent Night” was written in 1818 by Franz Gruber, in 1935 it became a hit single with Bing Crosby’s recording.  In 1941 Katherine K. Davis wrote “The Little Drummer Boy”, which ended up becoming a hit single in 1958.  In 1963, Bing Crosby again topped the charts with “Do You Hear What I Hear?” 

These are examples of songs with a clear Christian message (albeit, with some creative license), honoring the Christian ethic and ultimately Christ Himself.  That generation of listeners embraced these songs (and others like them) as meaningful representations of their own convictions, evidenced by their popularity. 

However, it seems that the general American audience has strayed from the earlier sentiment of a Christ-centered holiday to songs revolving around Santa Claus (“Oh, Santa” Mariah Carey, 2010), elfs (“Elf’s Lament” Michael Buble), Christmas-trees (“Christmas Tree” Lady Gaga, 2009), mistletoe (“Mistletoe” Justin Bieber, 2011), and even wizards (“Wizards of Winter”, 2004 Trans-Siberian Orchestra).  Ranging from secular to crass, songs like “The Greatest Time of Year” (2006, Aly & AJ), or “Mistress for Christmas” (1990 AC/DC) seem to suggest a greater commercialization and decadence in our culture than in past generations. 

I’m not criticizing the artistry, relevance, or general fun that these songs may elicit.  All of them obviously hit a share of the market that put them on top.  But as one man said, “You can tell a lot about a person by observing what they do for entertainment and leisure.”  What does America’s entertainment say about our society? 

While there are examples of secularism in songs from earlier generations, as well as a few sacred examples that have arisen in our contemporary culture, the overall direction of what has been hailed as ‘popular’ through the past decades of American listeners seems to indicate a departure from the centrality of Christ in Christmas.

Let’s remember the true reason for Christmas, not only in our songs, but in our attitudes and convictions, celebrating Christ instead of the myriads of other detractions (i.e. materialism, hedonism, secularism and even mysticism). 

After all Christ is central to the holiday’s name.  Let’s make Him central in our lives, as well.