Dan Locklair: Gloria | Convivium Records International
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Dan Locklair: Sacred Choral Works

Chris Watson & Sospiri

  • Catalogue
    CR033
  • Featured
    Dan Locklair
  • Conductor
    Christopher Watson
  • Choir
    Sospiri
  • Organ
    Jeremy Cole
  • Trumpet
    Ellie Lovegorve
  • Engineering
    Adaq Khan
  • Mastering
    Adaq Khan
  • Producer
    Andrew King
  • Producer
    Dan Locklair
  • Creative Dir
    John Bevan
  • Exec Producer
    Adrian Green
  • Genres
  • Gloria - Track 7
    *(Performer Credits)
  • Conductor
    Malcolm Archer
  • Choir
    Winchester College Chapel Choir
  • Choir
    The Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir
  • Trumpets
    Ellie Lovegrove, Shane Brennan, Samuel Ewens, Charlotte Buchannan
  • Trombone
    Jack Smith, Jamie Pimenta
  • Bass Tromb.
    Adrian Cleverly
  • Tuba
    Tom Briers
  • Percussion
    Robert Kendall, Craig Apps
  • Sound Assist
    Kevin Hodgson

Introduction

This CD brings together pieces composed with texts that come from across the liturgical year. The works represent the style of Dan Locklair’s vocal music and show his skill and imagination in settings for a cappella choir, pieces for voices with organ accompaniment, and the central work Gloria with large choral forces, brass octet and percussion. At the core of all these pieces is the text and Dan Locklair’s setting of it.

From the extreme complexity of the contrapuntal and virtuosic writing in Gloria, to the simplicity of the restful The Lord Bless You and Keep You with its unison declamations, there is a common trait: the compositions are a personal and deeply expressive response to the texts, being set with care, vision and with faith. Repeated listening will serve to deepen our appreciation of Dan Locklair’s considerable compositional gifts, and also our own understanding of the very texts themselves.

Composer's Notes

Lord Jesus, Think on Me is a setting of an ancient text by Synesius of Cyrene (ca. 375-430), who was made Bishop of Ptolemais around 410 only several years after his conversion to Christianity. Synesius’s Lord Jesus, Think on Me is the last of a set of ten odes, here with the well-known English translation from the original Greek by Allen W. Chatfield (1808-1896). First published in Chatfield’s Songs and Hymns of the Earliest Greek Christian Poets, 1876, Chatfield stated that his translation was “a paraphrase or amplification, rather than an exact translation of the original.”

While reflecting the dark and austere quality of Chatfield’s translation, my choral setting of it also seeks to convey the poem’s lyrical beauty, as well as the brightness and joy that is so beautifully expressed in the final verses of the poem. It was composed in May 2006 and is dedicated to my friend and colleague, David Pegg, in celebration of both his 2005 retirement as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Greensboro, North Carolina-based professional choral ensemble, Bel Canto Company, and of his work as Director of Music of Centenary United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The texts for all three movements of The Isaiah Canticles come from the book of Isaiah as found in the The Book of Common Prayer (1979). The words of thanksgiving for Movement I, Surely, it is God Who Saves Me, come from Isaiah 12:2-6, with the more reflective movement II, Seek the Lord, coming from Isaiah 55:6-11. The exuberant text for Movement III, Arise, Shine, for Your Light Has Come, is from Isaiah 60:1-3, 11a, 14c, 18-19.

Like a suite in conception, all the three movements of The Isaiah Canticles are centered on the same pitch, “D." Each movement is based on a synthetic nine-note mode (D, E, F, F-sharp, G, G-sharp, A, B, C), which is formed by four-note sets derived from the Lydian, Dorian, Aeolian and Ionian modes. A polychord (consisting of C-major and D-major) creates an important harmonic anchor and defines the climax points for all three movements of the piece.

Completed in June 2005, The Isaiah Canticles was the result of a commission from The South Bend Chamber Singers (Nancy Menk, Music Director) in South Bend, Indiana.

Angel Song is a setting of a Christmas hymn text by Moncure Daniel Conway (1832-1907) entitled, Now Let the Angel Song Break Forth! Following his graduation from Harvard Divinity School, Rev. Conway, a native of Virginia, settled in the Boston area and became a Unitarian minister and prolific author. Influenced by the transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson, he was an outspoken critic of slavery. Devoting more and more of his time to the abolitionist cause, Mr. Conway eventually left the Unitarian Church and moved to England. His five-stanza hymn text, Now Let the Angel Song Break Forth!, was written in Boston in December 1863 during the American War Between the States and only days prior to President Abraham Lincoln issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. In proclaiming ‘For the New World a Christ’s new birth,’ the poem’s keen insights from 1863 remain ever fresh and vivid. In Angel Song I have sought to musically capture the vibrancy, pain and timeless reflections found in Rev. Conway’s expressive words.

Angel Song was the result of a 2014 commission from John and P.J. Williams in honor of the music program of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (Winston–Salem, North Carolina) and its director, Organist/Choirmaster, Dr. John Cummins.

En natus est Emanuel is a lush setting of a Christmas text by German composer, Michael Praetorius (ca. 1571-1621), and comes from Part VI of Praetorius’ large publication, Musae Sioniae (The Muses of Sion, 1605-1610). En natus est Emanuel was composed in 1999 for the Bel Canto Company and Greensboro Youth Chorus (Greensboro, North Carolina, USA), who premièred it during that same year.

Gloria uses the traditional Latin Gloria in excelsis text, which begins with the Biblical words found in Luke 2:14. This ancient canticle is known both as the Greater Doxology and, because of its opening sentences, as “the angel’s song.” In the first part of Gloria, I have sought to symbolize “the angel’s song” aspect of the text that celebrates the birth of Jesus. After a brass and percussion introduction, a small group of singers begins a chant-like statement of the Gloria text. These singers begin singing in the rear of the performance space. As the small group sings, they process toward the larger ensemble, symbolizing the angels bringing the Good News of Jesus’ birth to God’s people on earth. The full chorus and brass gradually enter and the full text of the Gloria is eventually sung. Soon, a symbolic people’s response begins as the Gloria text is fully repeated. This time many dimensions of this dramatic text are musically expressed, ranging from the exuberant and highly rhythmic statements of praise in the opening and closing parts of the piece, to the gentle and reflective antiphonal music in the piece’s mid-section.

Gloria was commissioned in 1998 by the Choral Art Society (Portland, Maine) for a December 1999 World Première in Portland. It is warmly dedicated to the board, members and Music Director (Robert Russell) of the Choral Art Society.

O Sacrum Convivium is a serene setting of this traditional Latin text. Composed in 1999, it is warmly dedicated to Robert Brewer and Frances Anderson (both, at the time, Organist/ Choirmaster and Music Assistant respectively of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas).

Ubi Caritas is a setting of the traditional Latin text by the same name. It was composed in early 2003 and is warmly dedicated to the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Choir (Winston-Salem, NC), Barbara Beattie and Jack Mitchener (then Director of Music and Organist respectively).

Ave Verum Corpus seeks to capture both the lyrical sadness and the radiant Hope expressed in the ancient and enduring Ave verum words. The authorship of the medieval poem, Ave Verum, is unknown. Ave Verum Corpus was composed in the autumn of 2010 and is warmly dedicated to my former Wake Forest University student—now colleague and friend—Andrew Clark, in celebration of his first academic year (2010–2011) as Director of Choral Activities at Harvard University.

St. Peter’s Rock uses brief texts from both the Old and New Testaments. Matthew 16:18, set in Latin (“Tu es Petrus…"), serves as an antiphon heard throughout the piece. After an instrumental introduction, the Antiphon is heard in an expansive manner with the simple chant-like vocal lines being supported by an organ chaconne. The chaconne represents the solidarity of The Church (i.e. “Rock") on which St. Peter set Christ’s church. A slow, a cappella section, using the Genesis 28:17 English text, appears at the piece’s mid-section. Flanking this a cappella section are two fast and rhythmical sections based on text from the New Testament (Matthew 7:24-25) and Old Testament (Psalm 122:1), both of which exuberantly celebrate “the house of the Lord!" The basis for all the musical material of St. Peter’s Rock is the 19th century hymn tune, St. Peter, by English-born composer, Alexander R. Reinagle (1799-1877) and named for the London church Mr. Reinagle served as organist: St. Peter in the East. St. Peter is heard most clearly in the trumpet part during the final section of St. Peter’s Rock.

St. Peter’s Rock was commissioned in 1999 by The St. Peter’s Choir (Ben Outen, Organist and Choirmaster) of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Charlotte, North Carolina as a gift to the congregation in honor of the Church’s new Parish House. St. Peter’s Rock also pays tribute to the memory of my uncle, Wriston Hale Locklair (1925-1984), Director of Public Relations and Assistant to the President at The Juilliard School in New York City until the time of his sudden death. As a child Wriston was a choirboy at St. Peter’s.

Pater Noster is a Latin setting of The Lord’s Prayer as found in Matthew 6: 9-13. Rich and lush in its expression of these beloved words of Jesus Christ, Pater Noster was composed in June of 2000 for Gerre Hancock and The Choir of Men and Boys of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York City.

The text for Remembrance comes from The Beatitudes, as found in Matthew 5: 3-12 (KJV). Musically, Remembrance alternates the full four-part SATB choir with the men (TTBB) and women (SSAA) of the choir. An antiphon, “Remember your servants, Lord,” is heard three complete times over the course of the piece, and may be sung (as recorded here) by a soloist.

Remembrance was composed in February 2006 for the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Choir (Winston–Salem, North Carolina) and in memory of my parents Hester Helms Locklair (1918-2005) and Archie Greer Locklair (1916- 1986), It is my hope that the gentle musical language of this piece, as it both conveys this ancient text and floats between the performing forces (eventually leading to a climax of grandeur), will convey to the listener a sense of Beauty and Peace that is inherent in both the text and was in the lives of my parents.

The Lord Bless You and Keep You takes its text from Numbers 6:24-26 (although this setting reverses verses 25 and 26). A traditional benediction response, this short setting of these scripture verses was composed in 2008 and is dedicated to Julia and Jack Mitchener.

Works on this disc, except for the Gloria, were recorded at Keble College Chapel, Oxford, 11-13 September, 2015, by kind permission of the Warden and Fellows of Keble College, Oxford.

This recording of Dan Locklair’s Gloria was at Romsey Abbey, 7 March, 2015, by kind permission of the Vicar and Church Wardens of Romsey Abbey.

Dan Locklair 2016

Dan Locklair

Dan Locklair (b. 1949), composer, is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina (USA). He holds a Master of Sacred Music degree from the School of Sacred Music of Union Theological Seminary in New York City and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Presently, Dr. Locklair is Composer-in- Residence and Professor of Music at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Sospiri

Sospiri was founded in Oxford in 2006 by the conductor Christopher Watson and the composer John Duggan after they met singing in Magdala, the inspirational ensemble run by David Skinner at Magdalen College, Oxford. Sospiri sings regularly in service and in concert— both in the UK and abroad, and has recorded several CDs, including two for The Gift of Music label, a disc of Lamentations for Naxos and a series of new commissioned settings of WW1 texts for Convivium Records. The choir has built up a large and diverse repertoire from Byrd to Britten and in addition specialises in performing plainsong. For several years Sospiri sang a termly Latin Vespers in Merton College chapel, twice travelled to Trieste in Italy to perform the Triduum in its liturgical context and has twice appeared alongside The Tallis Scholars singing the chant for the Martin Randall festival of The Divine Office in Oxford.

Winchester College Chapel Choir

Winchester College was founded by William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, in 1382, and Winchester College Quiristers have for over 625 years sung services in Winchester College Chapel. Today, they have formed a choir renowned for its excellence, under Malcolm Archer.

The Quiristers, who form the top line of the choir, perform a wide variety of music at home and abroad as a concert choir. Until 1966, Quiristers were educated in a small school within Winchester College, but since that time they have attended The Pilgrims’ School. At Pilgrims’, they are given bursaries, funded by Winchester College, with means-tested top up funding available up to 100 percent. Here the Quiristers benefit from a first- rate all-round education, all the school’s sporting activities, and a particularly broad musical training which builds confidence, teamwork and a commitment to the highest standards.

In recent years the Winchester College Choirs have sung in the USA, Italy, France, Holland and Russia and regularly in London, where performances

have included the BBC Promenade Concerts and The London Handel Festival. They also frequently appear on BBC TV and Radio, including the BBC Radio 3 ‘Choral Evensong’ programme, and in 2015 a Quirister won the coveted BBC Young Chorister of the Year competition, the fourth such success in recent years. That year, the Chapel Choir recorded the Classic FM carol service and the Quiristers made a recording of Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols for BBC Radio 4.

The Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir

The PGS Chamber Choir is the school’s premier vocal ensemble, one of over 40 ensembles at the school. In addition to leading school services and concerts, they have broadcast on BBC Radio and Television as part of the DDay70 commemorations and their recording of Christmas music, Hodie!, was listed as a Recommended Recording by the Royal Schools of Church Music in 2014.

An annual highlight is the Remembrance Concert, performed alongside the school’s Associate Musicians the London Mozart Players, with whom the choir has an ongoing programme of commissions by leading composers.

In September 2015, the choir joined the Oxford Bach Choir, conductor Nicholas Cleobury, the LMP and tenor soloist Nicky Spence to record one of these commissions, Jonathan Dove’s powerful cantata For an Unknown Soldier, for Signum Records. In 2016, the choir is premiering three works by the school’s current Associate Composer, Alexander Campkin, culminating in a thrilling choral day for hundreds of singers from the school led by Dominic Peckham.

The choir is delighted to be touring Italy in July 2016, performing as part of two local festivals and for Mass at St Mark’s Basilica, Venice.

Jeremy Cole

Jeremy Cole is assistant music director St Martin-in-the-Fields, a post he holds alongside a busy freelance career as an organist, piano accompanist and conductor. He works regularly with leading choirs such as Polyphony, Holst Singers and the City of London Choir, and is in demand as a repetiteur for solo singers and instrumentalists, and as a continuo player. He is also artistic director of Illuminare Choir, a professional ensemble which he founded in 2012 for a concert in Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge.

As organ scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge from 2010-2013 he regularly conducted and accompanied the world-renowned choir in their routine of rehearsals and services, as well as their busy concert and recording schedule. He played the organ on Trinity College Choir’s Gramophone Award-winning disc of the music of Herbert Howells, and features as accompanist and organ soloist on their recently released recording of the music of Kenneth Leighton on the Hyperion label. Jeremy is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and has studied the organ with Colin Walsh, Stephen Farr and David Briggs, and conducting with Stephen Layton.

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