Andrew Fowler remains more than a musical staple in his native Myrtle Beach; his works are reaching around the world.
Known especially for his decade as artist in residence for the Carolina Master Chorale, Fowler will have his Christmas cantata, “Angelic Host Proclaim,” premiere at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 11 at Trinity United Methodist Church in Conway, where he’s the musical director. Also, Fowler is invited to the College Music Society International Conference 2017, in Sydney, Australia, for a performance of his “Songs of Travel.”
A music theory professor at Coastal Carolina University who plays in local bands – such as U-N-I, 7-10 p.m. Fridays at Travinia Italian Kitchen at The Market Common in Myrtle Beach – Fowler is ready for release of his third CD, “Gold Standard,” expected by mid-January. The keyboardist and vocalist wrote five of the nine songs, with help from some family: daughter Gwyn Fowler, of Greenville, sings lead on a number, and son Nathan Andrew Fowler, based in Los Angeles, handled the mixing and mastering.
They “were always surrounded by music – It’s in their DNA,” said Andrew Fowler, also proud of three stepchildren with his wife of 10 years, Scarletta.
Fowler said he hopes “a release concert” for “Gold Standard” is in the cards and to check andrewfowlermusic.com for updates.
Question | Having made music and composition your whole life, how has Christmas put an extra spring in your step that never slows down?
Answer | Music is elevated in a special way during Christmas. The musician in me wants to contribute any way I can to make the joy and beauty of the season new. “Old Becomes New” – from the “Yuletide Moon” CD last year, is about how the spirit of Christmas always regenerates. Music regenerates “over time” and “every time” you listen.
Q. | How will the premiere performance of your Christmas cantata, “Angelic Host Proclaim,” Dec. 11 at Trinity United Methodist Church in Conway, differ or build on from the artwork you laid down?
A. | The church’s chancel choir is excellent, and I wanted to write a cantata for them. I wrote most of the music last January, and orchestrated it during the summer. The 38-minute work recounts the Nativity story, with special focus given to the angelic host that revealed God’s word to the world. Familiar Christmas carols are interwoven with original music as the story takes off on an angelic flight.
Q. | With the Charleston Southern University choirs performing on Dec. 2, “An Outbreak of Peace: A Christmas Oratorio,” your work that premiered in 2009 as a commission for the Carolina Master Chorale, how special are such ensembles who have made a memorable night of this masterpiece inspired by that truce on a Christmas Eve during World War I?
A. | I’m excited when any musical ensemble is taking on the challenge of bringing a new work to an audience, especially for an annual Christmas concert. Any oratorio is a handful for all the players involved, and I’m humbled that Charleston Southern is presenting it. What a timeless story, all started through music.
Q. | With “Gold Standard” as your third CD release in three years – a streak begun in 2014 with “Fading Sun” – and each so different from the others, how does this new collection fulfill a hunger to immerse yourself in, and package and salute, another era of music, with more history woven into the mood, melody and words?
A. | As a kid in Myrtle Beach in the 1960s, I heard the songs from the American Songbook, mostly in restaurants. The best ones had an organist who would play your requests. Now, I’m working with Dan O’Reilly’s group, U-N-I, with whom I play and sing the great standards. Dan (on tenor saxophone), Denny Hess (bass), Mike Knight (drums), and Chris Connelly (trombone) are all featured on the album, … for which about half of the songs are straight-up gold standards.
Q. | With “Songs of Travel” selected for the College Music Society International Conference, next July in Australia, what do you to prepare for that honor?
A. | I wrote “Songs of Travel” for Jeffrey Jones, baritone, and Philip Powell, piano. The conference coordinators would like all of us to be there. As composer, I’ll look forward to new musical experiences. Also, it will be one of those peak moments to hear my music performed at a world class venue such as the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Q. | Having listened to your “Yuletide Moon” to usher in my Thanksgiving spirits this year, how special is having produced that Grand Strand-centered title track, and at what instance did it sing to you in mind and heart to write? Some summer evening, under a full moon?
A. | As I wrote the song in November, I thought of a summer evening in July. When the tune came, I was running on the beach, and as I heard the waves crash, the sounds of Brian Wilson started to fill my head. I wrote “Yuletide Moon” as soon as I got back from the run. However, if I ever record or sing it again, I’m going to change the text to “Palmetto Moon.”
Q. | You and I have passed each other – you running, and my pedaling – in our free time. How many miles do you rack up on your legs in a year – in a place where we can enjoy our respective meditative recreation year round, and is that another escape to listen to music, or rototilling turf for more directions to explore in future compositions?
A. | More than 400 miles. I need new running shoes. When I run, I often hear new musical ideas. Running is rhythmic, and it generates new music.
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 843-444-1764.