Nunc Dimittis

October 6, 2010

Clyde Neville English died June 18, three days short of his 95th birthday, in Morgantown, West Virginia. He was professor emeritus at West Virginia University, where he had been head of the organ department since 1945. He presided over the construction of the WVU Creative Arts Center and designed the 55-rank Möller organ there.
English held degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University and Union Theological Seminary, and had studied with Clarence Dickinson and Marcel Dupré. His church positions included Hitchcock Memorial Presbyterian Church, Scarsdale, New York, and East Liberty Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. As a recitalist, he had performed in Chicago, Dallas, London, and Paris.

Floyd Edwards Werle, prolific composer, arranger, and organist, died July 19 at age 81 in Oakland, California. A native of Billings, Montana, he was born May 8, 1929. He began piano study at the age of five, and added lessons on clarinet at age eight. During his youth, he played jazz with Billings school and community combos, performing on radio and for dances. He enrolled in the University of Michigan music department, and it was there that his talent for composing and arranging came to the fore.
In 1950, he joined the 695th Air Force Band at Great Falls, Montana. His abilities as a music arranger at the University of Michigan came to the attention of the Air Force Band, and he arrived in Washington, D.C., in 1951, beginning a 32-year career as chief arranger for the Air Force Symphonic Band, their Symphony Orchestra, and the Air Force Singing Sergeants ensemble. They broadcast on radio weekly. In the 1960s, he composed Wonder of Flight for symphony orchestra with antiphonal brass and two tape playback systems. By the time Werle had retired from the Air Force in 1982, he had created over 50 compositions, including four trumpet concerti for Doc Severinsen and two symphonies. His work in the field of sacred music is equally impressive, composing over 200 hymns, Masses, and other works.
Werle was minister of music at Faith United Methodist Church in Rockville, Maryland for 35 years. His university degrees included a belated Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in 1982 (having missed receiving it when he enlisted in the Air Force) and a Doctor of Fine Arts in 2001 from Rocky Mountain College of Billings, Montana. On January 9, 2008, in a special ceremony in the nation’s capital, the U.S. Air Force Band Library (which houses over 900 of Werle’s compositions and arrangements) was officially named the Floyd E. Werle Music Library.
In 2002, he moved to California, first to Almaden Hills, where he was music director for the United Methodist Church, then to Oakland, where he was organist at the Montclair United Methodist Church, and for the past four years, served both that church and Lake Merritt United Methodist Church as organist. He was married to his wife, Violet, until her death in 1999. Floyd E. Werle is survived by his sister, Arlene Cooke of West Chester, Pennsylvania, and her children.

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