An organ piece, “Variations on the National Hymn,” by Winston-Salem composer Margaret Sandresky, was performed on July 4 at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., by Tom Sheehan, the cathedral organist.
Sheehan’s performance was part of a festive program of music for brass, organ and chorus celebrating Independence Day. He plays Sandresky’s piece, also known as “God of Our Fathers,” on the Skinner pipe organ.
The entire concert can be seen on YouTube. Sandresky’s piece begins about 29 minutes into the recording.
It is based on “God of Our Fathers,” which was composed in 1876 by the organist at St Thomas Church in New York City, Sandresky said. Known for his improvisations on hymn tunes, he was commissioned to set this text which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Sandresky’s variations were commissioned in 2016 by Kimberly Marshall, for the organ at Knollwood Baptist Church here in Winston-Salem, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the church’s founding; and the hymn selected was a favorite of its founder, long term and beloved minister, Dr. Jack Noffsinger.
Marshall, a former church member and concert organist, played the local premiere. Sandresky was celebrating her 95th birthday at the time.