New CD from composer Dan Locklair includes a Requiem written for the living as it honors the dead | Music
Dan Locklair, a composer at Winston-Salem, completed his third symphony last year but recently released his first requiem.
“Composers rarely make more than one requiem in their lifetime,” Locklair said. “You do a requiem, and that’s about it. I like to think that maybe I got this one right.
Locklair’s requiem is the highlight of his new CD, “Dan Locklair Requiem & Other Choral Works”. The album is released by Convivium Records and is distributed by Naxos.
Basically, the word “requiem” refers to the mass for the dead.
But Locklair said the term, as applied to music, can be a setting for choir, orchestra and organ.
“Dan Locklair Requiem & Other Choral Works” is a setting for choir, string orchestra, organ and soloists.
Although Locklair’s requiem has the main elements of the traditional requiem, everything is in English. It also offers words of comfort from the Psalms and other scriptures.
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“Mine is not a Roman Catholic requiem at all,” Locklair said.
His requiem honors and is written in memory of his parents, Archie and Hester Locklair.
“But it’s also a hopeful piece that gives a sense of peace and serenity to someone who hears it,” Locklair said. “In other words, it is truly written for the living, even as it honors the dead.”
The requiem consists of nine movements, including “Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled”, “Sanctus-Benedictus”, “I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes” and “In Paradisum – Requiescant in pace”. Other choral works on the CD include “Comfort Ye My People”, “O Light of Light”, and “The Mystery of God”.
Performances were recorded by Maestro Rupert Gough, the Royal Holloway Choir, organist Martin Baker and the Southern Sinfonia at Christchurch Priory in Dorset UK.
“Comfort Ye My People,” a standalone choral piece, has already resonated with a lot of people, Locklair said. “Even during the recording sessions in England, the musicians were extraordinarily moved by this piece and the requiem,” he said.
Originally from Charlotte, Locklair lived in New York State for 11 years. He holds a master’s degree in sacred music from the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary in New York and a doctorate in musical arts from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.
In 1982 he moved to Winston-Salem and joined the faculty of Wake Forest University, where he served as composer-in-residence and professor of music.
Just weeks after moving, Locklair met his future wife, Paula, former vice president of education at Old Salem Museums & Gardens.
Locklair has been passionate about music since childhood.
“I started teaching piano when I was 6, but I think I was begging my parents to do it earlier,” he said.
Today, his music is performed in the United States and around the world. Its catalog includes symphonic works, a ballet, an opera, chamber, instrumental and vocal and choral compositions.
Locklair’s commissioned compositions have been performed by musicians around the world, including the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Orchestra, Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys of New York and the Saint Paul’s Cathedral Choir of London. .
Locally, his piece “Phoenix for Orchestra” was commissioned by Winston-Salem Symphony, and his “Hail the Coming Day” was commissioned by the city of Winston-Salem for its 2013 centennial celebration.
Q: How would you describe your art?
To respond: I am a composer in the classical tradition. My goal has always been to write quality, well-crafted music that has something to say. It is difficult, if not impossible, to truly describe one’s own personality, be it human or musical. But some of the larger qualities that surely contribute to my musical personality are both a tendency to explore rhythmic excitement, as well as a search for lyrical and harmonic beauty.
Ultimately, I still hope that listeners will hear a distinct personality in my music, as well as fingerprints that identify it as music from the pen of a 20th/21st century American composer.
Q: How have you evolved as an artist?
To respond: In terms of craftsmanship, I have always tried to create the most with the least. This trait remains, because, for me, it helps with the clarity of the form (which I appreciate). As for the essence of my music, I tend to believe that it now probes greater depths, especially spiritual depths. After all, living life more fully and creating art more thoroughly should, it seems to me, be one of the rewards of aging.
Q: Who influenced your art?
To respond: Many at first, but in different ways:
The anonymous composers of medieval song, where a real simplicity of texture is revealed.
Tallis (and other Renaissance composers) for first leading me to discover the spiritual depths of sacred a cappella choral music.
JS Bach for his superhuman mastery of musical craftsmanship and the supernatural power of his resulting music.
Benjamin Britten for teaching me so much about economy of means and, with Vaughan Williams, showing me the importance of composition for professional and amateur musicians.
Ives, Copland and Randall Thompson (to name a few) for laying the groundwork for what it means to be an American composer.
In short, I have always been open to many influences, including even popular influences like The Beach Boys! I sincerely believe that a composer develops his own voice by absorbing, as well as rejecting, many eclectic ideas and influences.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
To respond: Weather. For me, it’s always been a balancing act between being both a full-time teacher and a full-time composer (with constant deadlines) and doing both well.
On a purely compositional level, the constant challenge is to create the best compositions possible. I have been fortunate to have a steady, virtually unbroken series of commissions since 1982. These pieces have included orchestral works, choral compositions, chamber pieces, and compositions for a variety of solo instruments. Each piece has been different, with each intended to be for a variety of occasions and for a diverse range of musicians and/or ensembles here and abroad.
But my goal has always been the same: to create the best composition of which I am capable. The amount of work and time needed to achieve this is considerable because, contrary to the cinematic image of a composer, quality compositions do not simply fall from the sky!
Q: What does art do for you?
To respond: I embrace any art that is well done and that moves me in some way. By extension, when I create a piece of music, I have to be moved by it. Only then can I hope that my music will move others. Since the listener is the third and final part of the songwriter-performer equation, it is the ultimate reward when my music moves others.
Q: Any advice for other artists?
To respond: Follow your passions, learn the ropes of your craft, set high goals, and work diligently to be the best you can be. The quality will always be there, but achieving it is not easy. Craftsmanship in all arts involves learning and must be worked on daily.
Only by striving to be the best you can be can you ever hope to come close to even a part of your God-given talent. When you do, however, the rewards are plentiful!
Fran Daniel writes about artists – visual, musical, literary and more – every week in Relish. Send your story ideas to [email protected] or call 336-727-7366.