• David Winkler

What a challenging year this has been thus far! For some, it has been mainly an inconvenience: having to wear masks, keeping physical distancing, not being able to go out to eat, etc. For others, it has been difficult, even tragic, as people have died or suffered greatly from the virus itself.

Students (and parents) have had to adjust to new school situations, and lots of folks are working at home. Some are doing fine financially, some even prospering, but others have lost work and are in dire straits.

At my church in Austin, we've been meeting since June for social-distanced services, with only a worship band and a few singers onstage, and much of our congregation is still watching services online.There are no other activities besides Sunday morning worship, and the church offices are closed during the week. Our pastor said last Sunday, "Even after this virus is over, things are never going to be the same." Very likely, many things will be quite different for our churches, businesses, schools, and other parts of our society.

Most of you reading this are involved in church music ministry of some kind. In my case, the orchestra I direct has not met for rehearsal since March 11. That's almost a half a year gone, and I'm still not quite sure when we will begin meeting again. No rehearsals and no playing in services means no new music purchased, and here we come to the main thing I want to bring to your attention.

No new music purchased means that church music publishers are really struggling these days. Like any business, publishers have to make a profit so that they can continue operations. Because of the current crisis, many have drastically slowed or even stopped the production of new music. Staff are being let go, and office leases are being cancelled. I personally know of two very capable veteran music editors who have lost their jobs in the last couple of months. Those of us who are freelancers are also caught in this dilemma.

All this to say ... pray for our publishers. Most that I know are in the business to help provide resources for church music ministries, with the ultimate goal being to make disciples and build up the kingdom of God. Their heart is to fulfill the oft-repeated scriptural admonition to "sing to the Lord a new song." So pray for them ... and if you're able to buy some new music at this time, please consider doing so.

  • David Winkler

Besides accompanying congregational singing, probably the most utilized function of the church orchestra is to accompany anthems sung by the choir. The addition of orchestral instrumentation adds much color and interest to almost any choral performance.

I want to call your attention to our web page, "Orchestrations to Choral Works."

At the top of that page, if you click on the link in the blue box, you'll see a list of dozens of choral anthems I've orchestrated, some for full orchestra, and others for smaller accompanying groups.

It's been a blessing to have the opportunity to collaborate with a number of choral writers to create something to enhance the music they have composed. Here are a few examples for your listening pleasure:

FAITHFUL SERVANT (Cindy Berry) - Full Orchestra

A PSALM OF PRAISE (Benjamin Harlan) Brass and Percussion

CHRIST IS RISEN, HE IS RISEN INDEED (Keith Getty) "Celtic" ensemble

If you're looking for a hard-to-find orchestration, sometimes I may know of a source to recommend, even if it's not something I've written.  I am also available to write what you may need on a commission basis, so please contact me if I can help you in any way!

  • David Winkler

When I moved to Nashville in 1997, I didn’t know exactly what kind of work I would be doing.  All I knew was that I was responding to the call of God to move there. I had written some arrangements for several publishers and had a bit of success with orchestrating, so I figured I would continue to develop that line of work. While I had some very nice opportunities in these areas in my early Nashville years, eventually I fell into working more as an editor than as an arranger/orchestrator. With the advent of online home officing, I’ve been able to continue that work even after moving away from Nashville, first to North Carolina, and then back to our home state of Texas.

What is an editor, you may ask?  Think of a book author. He or she writes the basic text of the book, but others come alongside to help shape the work in many ways before it goes to press. It’s a team effort that involves executive editors, research assistants, typesetters, graphic artists and proofreaders, as well as friends of the author who may read and review the manuscript. The process is similar in producing music for choir and orchestra.

In my editorial work, I’ve focused mainly on music for orchestra, though I've also done entire choral books, with piano transcriptions included. With orchestra music, usually someone else has written the score, others have typeset it, produced a demo recording, and prepared the choral part.  My part involves combing through the many details required to get the orchestration ready for publication. This includes items such as making sure that the choral part and the orchestration match each other musically, correcting occasional wrong notes, checking that the dynamics and articulations are consistent between all the parts, editing the bowings for the strings, and doing lots of “clean up” of the written page. It also involves creating all the supplemental parts needed for a church orchestra, fleshing out the often very minimal rhythm parts, and adjusting the page layout.  In addition, I listen to the demo recording several times, often finding things that have been changed in the studio "on the spot" which then need to be noted in the published music.

After many years of directing church orchestras, I can usually look at a score and see what is going to work well in the arrangement, and what may be problematic. My name’s not on the music, but I’m always thinking of the directors and players who will be using it. The goal is to make everything “user friendly” so that the ministry of instrumental music and the worship of our Lord can be enhanced. 

Besides working with publishers, I’ve had the opportunity to assist a few individual writers from time to time in helping to improve their arrangements from an editorial standpoint. So, if I can ever assist you in this way, please let me know.

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