With over 300 organ pieces, all published by major publishing houses in the United States, Frank Ashdown is unquestionably the most prolific Latter-day Saint composer for the organ—and one of the very finest.
James Welch will play a program of Ashdown’s outstanding organ works. For many years Welch has performed, and in some cases premiered, Ashdown’s pieces. While no one-hour program could ever do Ashdown’s impressive oeuvre justice, this cross-section of his engaging compositions will demonstrate the diversity and creativity of this composer. The recital will include arrangements of many familiar hymns found in the Latter-day Saint hymnal, as well as English and German hymnals. There will also be trumpet tunes, arrangements of Christmas carols, a piece in tribute to John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, and even a piece about an irregular heartbeat.
An irregular heartbeat? Well, it turns out that Frank Ashdown, in addition to being a composer, spent his career as a physician. Frank Ashdown lives in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where he specialized in internal medicine. Born in 1942 in Utah and educated at the University of Texas, Ashdown began organ studies with Judson Maynard in Lubbock, Texas, and studied later with James Drake at the University of Utah. He was coached in composition by San Francisco concert organist Fred Tulan and by Leonard Raver of The Juilliard School. He is active as ward organist and for 33 years was choir director for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Alamagordo.