Read a wonderful new Classical Voice North Carolina review of the “stunning premiere performance of North Carolina composer Dan Locklair’s soon-to-be-a-hit Symphony No. 2, America,” performed on October 7 by John Gordon Ross and the Western Piedmont Symphony, at http://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=8659.
New CD review from The Choral Scholar, Spring 2017:
Dan Locklair: Gloria
Sospiri, Christopher Watson, conductor
Winchester College Chapel Choir and The Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber
Choir, Malcolm Archer, conductor
CR003 (2016; 73’31”)
The new compact disc Gloria, featuring the choral music of American composer Dan Locklair (b. 1949), presents fresh recordings of many of the composer’s works. Featuring multiple British choirs, including the Winchester College Chapel Choir, the Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir, and Sospiri, the album also is a good representation of contemporary British choral performance practice and style. Three choirs were combined to record these pieces, with adult women and children’s voices combined together.
For the uninitiated it may be helpful to provide a summary of Dan Locklair and describe his musical style. Locklair is from North Carolina and was educated at Union Theological Seminary where he earned a Master of Sacred Music degree. He also earned a D.M.A. from the Eastman School of Music. He currently serves as Professor of Music at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. Unlike many American composers, Locklair’s choral music has successfully penetrated the European market and his works are sung broadly across both North American and many European countries. A cursory listen to his choral works quickly explains why this is: his music is of such high craft and sophistication that is transcends any sense of a regional or national sound. Locklair’s musical style can be best described as eclectic. Elements of Howells and Pärt are offset by dancing syncopated dance rhythms moments later. To describe his harmonic language in the most banal of terms, his music is tonal and triadic with many added sixths, major sevenths, ninths, augmented fourths, and unresolved dissonances.
He never lingers too long in any key, but shifts often, always providing fresh colors.
The highlight of the album is the lengthy Gloria, an extended work for choir, brass octet, and percussion ensemble. It was premiered in 1999 by the Choral Art Society in Portland, Maine.
Clocking in at a little over fourteen minutes on this recording, this is a significant contribution to the repertoire. Opening with a brief fanfare for brass and percussion, the choir begins singing
from the rear of the performance space, perhaps evoking the song of the angels singing from afar. Beautiful homophony gives way to the middle dancing section as the opening text is repeated. “Delightful” would be a fitting adjective for this portion. The middle, reflective section, beginning with the text “Domine Deus” evokes the ethereal, minimalistic style of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Gloria builds to a thrilling climax of brass and divisi choir and would serve as a wonderful addition to a Christmas program for a collegiate or skilled community choir. As with much of Locklair’s choral music, sustained high notes may tire the sopranos.
The rest of the album is dedicated to Locklair’s anthems and motets. They will be discussed briefly in the order they appear on the recording. Lord Jesus, Think on Me opens the album, a new setting of the traditional hymn by church father Synesius of Cyrene. This anthem is set for SATB and organ. Dissonances in the treble voices of a minor second again strongly evoke Pärt. Locklair alternates between treble and lower voices for contrast and perhaps to emphasize rhetorically the need for all of humanity to beg for God’s mercy. The anthem builds to a rousing, Forte climax via modulation and rising tessituras supported by sustained chords in the organ. Minor intonation infractions by treble voices in the children can be noted and forgiven.
A set of three unaccompanied anthems follow, The Isaiah Canticles: Surely, It is God Who Saves; Seek the Lord; Arise, Shine, for your Light has Come. Although any of these three anthems could be sung individually they work well when sung as set. Set for SATB divisi, these works would challenge any skilled choir to perfectly tune the cluster chords and sing the syncopations correctly. But perhaps most challenging of all is the breath control needed for sustained chords. Arise, Shine in particular pushes the sopranos to the extreme—at times it sounds as though they might snap under the pressure of the high notes. But if your choir has the horses for this race, these canticles could be astounding and thrilling in a concert.
Angel Song, for SATB and organ, is one of two Christmas pieces on the album. A highly chromatic organ introduction gives way to the choir “breaking forth” the song of the angels as they announce the good news of Christ’s birth. As with most of Locklair’s music on this album, little is done in small proportions. The anthem has great breadth and length, prolifically moving through the text in a through-composed style, united by motives. The second Christmas track is the motet En Natus Est Emmanuel for SSAATTBB and SA soli, unaccompanied. This work is much more placid and introspective, emphasizing color through added-tone chords. While the choir sustains rich, gorgeous, colorful chords, the SA duets create an effect of angelic innocence and wonder.
O Sacrcum Convivium is a “serene” setting of this traditional communion text. For SATB voices, the gentle rhythms, slower tempo, homophonic texture, and general consonance make this one of Locklair’s more accessible works. A skilled church choir could sing this motet. Ubi Caritas is for unison voices and organ, but it is not necessarily an easy or simple work. Sudden key changes, chromaticism, and prevalent use of the augmented fourth may challenge some choirs. Also, though no mention of source material is mentioned in the liner notes, this reviewer heard clear melodic allusions to the Dies Irae chant tune, a strange and interesting association with this text. Ave Verum Corpus, SATB divisi, might be described as a signature example of Locklair’s unaccompanied choral music: generally homophonic, added-note chords, sustained singing, high tessitura for sopranos, and building to a loud climax proceeded and followed by soft serenity. Pater Noster, the Latin setting of the Lord’s Prayer, is very similar to Ave Verum in regards to style.
St. Peter’s Rock is one of the most important works of the album, a brilliant anthem contrasting solo trumpet, organ, and SATB. This work alone includes both seamless key and meter changes that provide effective transitions between contrasting sections. Idiomatic grace notes embellish the melodies in a way that is both pleasing and effortless. Another interesting contrast used by Locklair is that of text; he sets the Latin text against English from the Gospel of Matthew, Genesis, and the psalms, creating a truly dramatic and theologically rich work. St. Peter’s Rock ends with a loud climax and feels satisfying in its conclusion. Highly recommended.
In Remembrance, for SATB, organ, and organ, is a memorial anthem based on the Beatitudes. Much more strophic than the other tracks, this work places more emphasis on the importance of the text. A simple chordal style makes In Remembrance accessible to most choirs.
The Lord Bless You and Keep You is the only miniature anthem/motet on the album. Less than two minutes long, it is a simple and effective anthem suitable for a concert or for
liturgical use. Moderate ranges and undivided SATB voices make it an easier work.There is no ego in this piece, but simply an honest and sincere musical blessing.
Lovely new review from the July/August 2017 issue of American Record Guide:
Dan Locklair: Choral Pieces – Lord Jesus Think on Me; Isaiah Canticles; Angel Song; En Natus Est Emanuel; Gloria; 0 Sacrum Convivium; Ubi Caritas; Ave, Verum Corpus; St Peter’s Rock; Pater Noster; Remembrance; The Lord Bless You and Keep You – Jeremy Cole, org; Winchester College Choir; Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir/ Malcolm Archer; Sospiri/ Christopher Watson – Convivium 33 – 74 minutes
Here is something new-American choral music recorded by English choirs. Dan Locklair is a prominent composer who has written numerous works for nearly every medium: orchestral, chamber, instrumental, dramatic, choral, piano, and organ. This is a selection of his sacred choral pieces, both a cappella and accompanied, with the large-scale Gloria for choir, brass and percussion as the centerpiece of the program.
The Winchester and Portsmouth choirs are composed of high school age students and handle the technical and,musical demands with ease. Sospiri is a professional ensemble directed by Christopher Watson and is heard in five of the selections. The writing ranges from the virtuosic and contrapuntal in the Gloria to the touching simplicity of the opening ‘Lord Jesus, think on me’ and concluding ‘The Lord bless you and keep you: The music is beautifully written, deeply expressive of the texts; and the choirs give superlative performances. Extensive notes on the music and texts. – DELCAMP
More about the CD at https://conviviumrecords.co.uk/releases/dan-locklair-gloria-sacred-choral-works/
New Association of Anglican Musicians Journal CD Review and Interview with Dan.
Read a Cross Rhythms review of Dan’s Gloria CD.
The Diapason published a review of Angel Song for SATB chorus and organ
Dan Locklair – Angel Song, SATB and organ, Subito Music Publishing, 91480720, $3.00 (D)
Locklair’s setting of an expressive poem by Moncure Daniel Conway is subtitled, ‘A Christmas Anthem.” The organ part; on three staves, begins with a rhythmic solo, leading to a unison choral opening on the text ‘Now let the angel song bring forth!” There are several musical effects including organ tremolos,varied dynamics for the choir (Sfz-pcresc), and repeated chords on contrasting manuals that add to the exuberant spirit of the music. The opening choral theme’ recurs several times throughout the setting, Lovely music!
Classical Voice North Carolina has published a November 2014 review of Tapestries; Choral Music of Dan Locklair.
The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians published a review of Dan Locklair’s Creator of the Stars of Night for SATB and Organ
“Locklair’s signature slowly-oscillating texture, used in many of his solo organ works, is grafted onto a rhythmically regular form of the plainsong Conditor alme siderum.
As the choir enters, the chant is chromatically altered into a brighter version outside the mode. At the melody’s caesura, Locklair includes the “missing” accidentals to restore the mode. This vacillation between the expected notes of the mode and jarring deviations from it is singularly beautiful. The organ accompaniment follows its own path for the most part with increasing fragments of the melody Picardy as counterpoint. Even without part divisions, the expansive texture and high tessituras suggest large choral forces. Long sustained lines and novel harmonic progressions make this languorous anthem somewhat difficult, yet it is an impressive addition to Advent repertoire.”
Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians
Fanfare Magazine published a review of Tapestries: Choral Music of Dan Locklair. in the November/December 2014 issue.
The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians published a review of Tapestries: Choral Music of Dan Locklair.
The American Organist published reviews of Dan’s St. John’s Suite, Glory and Peace and O Festive Day in its February 2014 issue.
The American Organist Review by James Hildreth of Organ Music of Dan Locklair CD – Reprinted with the kind permission of The American Organist
Choir & Organ Review of Organ Music of Dan Locklair CD
A former American Guild of Organists Composer of the Year, Dan Locklair’s welcome profile on disc continues apace with this compendium of six popular concert works…
MusicWeb International Review of Organ Music of Dan Locklair CD:
The CD opens as it ends, with superb music and musicianship…The Salem Sonata (is)…A thoughtful and stirring piece, with a glorious ending worthy of Widor, very beautifully played by Keiser…though very simple, the (Phoenix) Processional is a rousing work…On the evidence of this disc, a follow-up CD by Loft Recordings would be doing lovers of sublime organ music a good deed.
Access the complete review…
Classical Voice North Carolina Review of Organ Music of Dan Locklair CD:
“This is truly beautiful music, and one could not ask for a finer rendering of it than Keiser’s. The sound quality is excellent…begin your holiday shopping early with copies of this for your music-loving friends.”
Access the complete review…
Read The American Organist’s review of Love Came Down at Christmas for SATB a cappella choir with optional keyboard accompaniment and The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians review of The Spacious Firmament for SSAATTBB chorus here.
» Read a Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians Review of the Loft Recordings CD – The Music of Dan Locklair
» Rubrics (IV. “The Peace May be Exchanged”) as part of Opus 76 (Alan Morrison at Verizon Hall, Philadelphia), Alan Morrison, organ (ACA Digital CD)
» Two reviews of The Music of Dan Locklair
Review of Opus 76 – Alan Morrison, organist
“The Peace May Be Exchanged” from Dan Locklair’s Rubrics (1989) takes its name from a sentence in the Service of Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child. The soft diapison color reflects the mood of quiet happiness at this point in the service. As we often have occasion to marvel, a gigantic instrument such as the modern concert organ, whose full sonic output can be measured (literally) in horsepower, is often most eloquent when speaking in a soft voice.”
Read the complete review.
Review of American Music from St. Thomas – Judith Hancock, organ
Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, Orchestra of St. Luke’s/Gerre Hancock
Having heard some of Dan Locklair’s organ music, I have begun to explore his other work. So far, wonderful pieces jostle with the nothing-much, certainly the case here. I’ve got nothing against Locklair’s setting of the Pater Noster, but I forget it a minute after hearing it. Not so with the Brief Mass, a lively, heartfelt work, written on the death of a colleague. Locklair keeps his ideas simple and memorable. The interest of the work derives from a sophisticated sense of harmony and rhythm. The Credo particularly impresses me. Essentially a political checklist, that part of the Mass always struck me as the hardest to set expressively. The text breaks down into atomistic bits, as one tenet of the faith follows another almost willy-nilly. Beethoven solved the problem in his Missa Solemnis by elaborating each bit almost to the breaking point and elevating disunity to a structural principle in the work. However, Locklair’s setting makes overall rhetorical sense and drives toward the finish.”
Read the complete review.
Choral Music Reviews
The Lord Bless You and Keep You and Lord Jesus, Think on Me reviewed in the Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians.
» Organists’ Review, November 2009
Organworks! 8 reviewed:
The last piece in the collection, Dance the Joy! by Dan Locklair, tests security of rhythm and pulse in a constantly changing metre … Players who are familiar with Rubrics will not be disappointed by the exuberance and rhythmic vitality needed to bring off Dance the Joy! …
» Church Music Quarterly Review
– Review of Dan Locklair: Organ Works
» Classical Voice North Carolina
– Review of Dan Locklair’s Naxos Symphony of Seasons CD
“All the orchestral compositions included on Symphony of Seasons reveal a composer of great originality and imagination who is the possessor of admirable compositional technique. He has as well an appreciation of vivid instrumental colors and their effectiveness in expressing ideas and emotions…I recommend that those who love inspired orchestral music will not wait to acquire this CD of which North Carolinians and Americans as a whole may be justifiably proud.”
Access the complete review…
» The American Organist, May 2008
James Hildreth’s review of the Naxos American Classics CD, Dan Locklair: Symphony of Seasons
“One of America’s most distinguished active composers, Dan Locklair uses basic materials in creative and imaginative ways, producing music that is distinctive, fresh, effective, colorful, and accessible. This fine recording offers the opportunity to experience the symphonic side of Locklair’s creativity.”
» The Diapason, April 2008
James McCray’s review of Remembrance (for SATB chorus, divisi, organ and trumpet):
“Using the famous Matthew 5 text of the Beatitudes, Locklair’s sensitive work is a tribute to the memory of his parents.”
» Read Reviews of Dan Locklair’s Naxos Symphony of Seasons CD
» The Diapason, February 2008
– Review of his Albany Chamber Music CDs
“Perhaps it is not strictly within our purview, but it is important and beautiful music by a foremost American composer. Many movements are based upon a painting or-poem, and welcome notes are written by Locklair giving us the why and wherefore, which-is most helpful. The concluding Constellations is a concerto for organ and percussion in tour movements, rippingly well-played ‘by George Ritchie and Albert Rometo. There is much variety in the selections, for example, Dream Steps, a dance suite for flute, viola and harp, is ‘…to be danced, especially in small spaces, such as art galleries, according to the composer. Don’t miss this wonderful and imaginative music.'”
-Charles Huddleston Heaton
» The American Record Guide, November/December 2007
Philip Greenfield’s review of Sonata da Chiesa (for flute and organ):
“Organist Scott Carpenter is joined by flutist Laura Dangerfield for two movements from the Sonata da Chiesa by Dan Locklair, a professor at nearby Wake Forest University whose music I really like.”
» Choir & Organ (England), September/October 2007
Peter Dale’s review of Lord Jesus, Think on Me (for SATB chorus and organ):
“Dan Locklair also has the gift of simplicity, and the wit to distinguish it from the accidents of naivety and the tediousness of the obvious.”
» Winston-Salem Journal (NC), 16 September 2007
Ken Keuffel’s review of the Naxos American Classics CD, Dan Locklair: Symphony of Seasons:
“The compositions on Locklair’s “American Classics” CD will not shock in the way that thorny, hard-to-digest music often does. Is that Pandering? I think not. Locklair always comes up with something fresh, challenging and appealing within the framework of tonality and other time-honored traditions. And his command of craft never falters even as he takes on a wide range of genres….
» The Diapason, July 2007
Peter Hardwick’s review of the Thomas Trotter CD, Sounds Phenomenal:
“Rubrics (1988) by Locklair (b. 1949) is one of the most frequently played organ works by an American composer. Its success is partly due to its style, perhaps, which has been described as ‘contemporary music with a friendly face.’ Indeed, although it is dissonant and modern, the music is warm and easy to enjoy.”
» The Virginian-Pilot, March 2007
– Review of performance as part of the Virginia Festival of American Voices
“Locklair, composer-in-residence at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., writes tonal music that gets a contemporary sound through light dissonance and rhythmic complexity.”
“His healthy sense of humor came through in “Break Away!” and “The Mysterious Cat.”
“With the chorale members spread out on the side balconies, Locklair’s “Tapestries” mixed piano and handbells with a variety of vocal effects in a fresh, interesting way.”
“The Bel Canto Company from Greensboro, N.C., has done a lot of Locklair’s music and, in addition to bringing his cats to life, gave a warm sound to his more traditional “Nunc Dimittis.”
» Classical Voice North Carolina, December 2006
Review of From East to West: A Festival of Carols by Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, Eric Stark, Artistic Director
“This is an admirable collection of some unusual carols, admirably sung by an outstanding choir and variously accompanied, but the chief attraction for Tar Heels may well be the title track, “From East to West,” composed in 2003 by Dan Locklair, distinguished Composer in Residence at Wake Forest University. Locklair’s choral uc0 u150 and organ u150 works continue to impress, and this stirring work, which is among his very best, sets the tone for the rest of the recorded program. Its disc-mates are of comparable worth and beauty, and the recording serves as a fine reminder that there is great choral singing all over this land.”
» The Diapason — Review of Salem Sonata (Raven CD OAR 700)
“This Raven compact disc is a recording of the dedication recital (of the rebuilt Tannenberg organ at Old Salem Village, North Carolina) that Peter Sykes played on March 18, 2004.”
“The high point of this dedicatory recital is, of course, Dan Locklair’s Salem Sonata, specially composed to celebrate the restoration of the large Tannenberg organ. It is divided in to four movements, headed, “To thee our cordial thankfulness,” “Hallowed be thy name,” “We owe thee thankfulness and praise,” and “Let his work your pleasure be.” Al four movement are founded on chorale melodies that would have been played on the Tannenberg organ before it was taken down and stored in 1910. The rich textures and warm harmonies remind me in many ways of the three Hindemith sonatas…”
“This is an excellent recording and a “must” for anyone interested in exploring America’s 18th-century organ heritage. The repertoire is varied and well played and Dan Locklair’s Salem Sonata alone is worth the purchase price.”
» The Gramophone, March 2006
Review of American Music from Saint Thomas (KOCH KIC CD 7567)
“Dan Locklair, composer-in-residence at Wake Forest University, writes in a conservative tonal idiom, but his music is fluent, well crafted and quite attractive. The Brief Mass opens with a soothing, mystical Kyrie with some artful dissonance, spiced by a sudden upward leap at 2’40” with the entry of boys’ voices. The Gloria is cast in a more syncopated, even jaunty, style reflecting its rejoicing quality. There are nimble solo turns and much effective contrast between high and low voices, with the trebles detached to soar at the “Cum Sancto Spiritu”. The Credo has a natural, conversational feel, while the Sanctus and Agnus Dei strike the right consolatory glow. Locklair’s Pater Noster offers a similarly lovely, dark-hued inspiration.”
» American Record Guide, March 2006
Review of American Music from Saint Thomas (KOCH KIC CD 7567)
“Here the incomparable (at least in this country) St. Thomas Choir of men and boys presents an inspiring and beautifully sung program of mostly sacred music from three leading American composers.”
“I first discovered Dan Locklair’s (b 1949) striking choral music at a memorable Piccolo Spoleto concert in Charleston. Choirs everywhere are discovering him, and I’ve been gratified to find his music in quite a few collections…Here he offers his compelling a cappella Brief Mass, but don’t confuse it with a “missa brevis”, as it contains a Credo movement. Written for up to eight parts, this is a shimmering and skillfully developed marvel of structural economy, chock-full of cotnrasting moods, sonic textures, and musical ideas. Riches from Locklair continue with “Pater Noster”, powerful and touching motet dedicated to this choir.”
“Locklair…doesn’t “write down” to anybody, and these gifted boys (along with their older colleagues) handle his often complex rhythms and dissonance-laced harmonies with technical aplomb.”
» FMusic Web International (UK), March 2006
Review of American Music from Saint Thomas
“The site has reviewed Dan Locklair’s orchestral music before now. Here we hear his Brief Mass for double chorus a cappella. It is beautifully laid out and performed with every indication of scrupulous care. The idiom is plain and unadorned yet with the spiritual North fixed firmly in Medieval England. The music reminded me of the clearer less densely harmonic moments in Herbert Howells’ church music. Then again the life and rhythmic surge of this music recalls the choral writing of the Welsh composer William Mathias and of Geoffrey Bush. The AMENs in the Credo sound as if they have been written by a composer who has heard the AMENs in Janacek’s Glagolytic Mass. The sweetly-spun rafter-ringing Sanctus links with John Rutter’s Gloria and Requiem. It is a lovely piece and should be taken up by cathedral and church choral directors the world over. Locklair’s Pater Noster is in much the same accessible style.”
“…the Locklair has the makings of a modern classic.”
» Classical Voice North Carolina, March 2006
Review of American Music from Saint Thomas
“This fine addition to the discography of American choral music encompasses performances of a few premier American composers of somewhat similar middle-of-the-road romantic compositional style. Piston and Thompson were both born near the end of the 19th century. Locklair (b.1949), Composer in Residence and Professor of Music at Wake Forest University, is possibly at the zenith of his creativity — hopefully, he has much more to say to us.”
“His Brief Mass (the ordinary, sung in Latin, a cappella) makes considerable use of the highly symbolic number “3”. Much of it is scored for double chorus. The Kyrie brings to my mind a monk on the floor, face down, with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross. It is a plea for mercy that demands nothing and offers all. The Gloria is a stand up piece, full of praise and thoughtful thanksgiving. The Credo is a statement of faith, much of it chant-like, giving meaning to the elements of belief. The Sanctus-Benedictus takes us beyond ourselves with ethereal music ascending like incense. And the Agnus Dei reminds us of the innocent Lamb and the suffering that is the source of mercy and peace. The choir sings with the excellent intonation and control that is necessary to perform the piece convincingly.”
“Jesus said to his disciples, “When you pray, pray like this….” Locklair’s Pater Noster (The Lord’s Prayer) is a model of how this prayer may be sung. With rich harmonies and lyrical lines that bring wonderful depth to the meaning of prayer, it is perhaps the composer’s most transcendent music.”
» Fanfare Magazine, February 2006
Review of American Music from Saint Thomas (KOCH KIC CD 7567)
“Here is a soothing CD for Sunday night listening: two settings of liturgical texts by Dan Locklair for a cappella choir and a song cycle by Randall Thompson for choir and chamber orchestra, separated by Walter Piston’s instrumental interlude for organ and strings. The choir is that of the church of St. Thomas, New York, “the only church-related residential choir school in the United States” according to the notes. It consists of 15 men, some of whom sing counter-tenor, and 20 or more boys from the church school. The recording was made in St. Thomas’ church in May 2002 and the acoustic has been well managed: sound is reverberant enough to put a halo around the choristers, but not so much as to muddy the lines. The organ and chamber orchestra are cleanly recorded too, balanced more closely than the choir.”
“Dan Locklair (b. 1949) has composed music in several genres but is probably best known for his sacred music. His Brief Mass from 1993 is widely performed, popular for its musical qualities as much as its brevity. Locklair’s choral writing is similar to that of Britten and some other 20th-century English choral composers: his themes have a Lydian modality about them and his harmonies often feature the soft dissonance of a major second. Both of these traits “sound” particularly well in a cathedral setting. The opening Kyrie is almost entirely set in the choir’s middle register, but is capped at the very end by a high arioso line from the sopranos — a sudden, short-lived blossoming. The remaining four movements are equally succinct. Again, in the short setting of the Pater Noster (the Lord’s Prayer), Locklair’s style is clean and clear, this time evoking a medieval atmosphere through the use of pedal notes from the bass voices. The choir copes well with these two unaccompanied works, which are not as easy as they sound: exposed singing like this with very little doubling requires unanimity of attack and accurate pitch.”
“…a delightful disc.”
» Winston-Salem Journal, 8 May 2005
Ken Keuffel’s review of the CD, DAN LOCKLAIR: CHAMBER MUSIC (Albany/Troy 701/2):
“Dan Locklair, a professor of composition at Wake Forest University, once confided to me that he had no desire to write for the accordion. But as this wonderful and generous two-disc collection of chamber works shows, he is willing — and quite able — to write for just about any other instrument or combination of instruments out there…
This collection of works, composed over a 20 year-plus period, reminds us of why musicians want to perform and record his music. Consider it a fine, comprehensive introduction to the composer’s art…
(In Reynolda Reflections) time hasn’t dampened my astonishment at this music, which can translate sensuousness into sound, quote old American gospel songs in new and compelling ways, and remind us that we’re misusing the Earth’s riches.
Frankly, I was blown away by Constellations…”
Classical Voice of North Carolina, April 2005
William Thomas Walker’s review of the CD, DAN LOCKLAIR: CHAMBER MUSIC (Albany/Troy 701/2):
» Salisbury Post (Salisbury, NC), 20 January 2005
“In a letter to his father about aspects of the composition of his piano concertos K.413-415, Mozart wrote, ‘(They) are in fact midway between too difficult and too easy — they are very brilliant, fall agreeably on the ear, though of course without becoming trivial. Here and there only connoisseurs can derive satisfaction, but in such a way that the non-connoisseur will be pleased without knowing why.’ Mozart’s comment could just as well apply as a summation of this delightful and wide-ranging compilation of chamber music by Dan Locklair…”
Gerald Cochran’s review of The Salisbury Symphony Orchestra performance of Symphony of Seasons (Symphony No. 1):
“Although a new work, it is quite listenable. The audience was very receptive, and gave Locklair, who was in attendance, a warm and well-deserved ovation.”
» Music & Vision (England) November 2004
Carson Cooman’s review of the CD, DAN LOCKLAIR: CHAMBER MUSIC (Albany/Troy 701/2):
“This reviewer wrote very favorably about Locklair’s all-orchestral disc also released on Albany Records in 2002. It is now wonderful that Albany has followed that successful release with this new set of Locklair’s chamber compositions….
This disc shows a larger emotional range of music than the orchestral disc, but Locklair’s style remains the same — strongly crafted music of tonal character with ‘American’ harmonic and rhythmic inflections. Locklair’s harmonic language often favors small collections of pitches, particularly pentatonic ones, which he uses to build entire movements or sections.
As is almost always the case with Locklair’s music, all of these works are inspired by extra-musical ideas; paintings, poetry, nature, etc. Spanning nearly twenty years of compositional activity, these works provide an excellent sampling of Locklair’s instrumental music…
If this disc does not provide as immediate of an ‘impact’ as Locklair’s orchestral disc, it is simply because the bold, extrovert nature of the orchestral music is painted on a larger canvas. Locklair’s chamber music is absolutely worth enjoying, however. He is an important American voice who deserves further recognition and performances.”
» American Record Guide November/December 2004
Lindsay Koob’s review of the CD, My Spirit Sang All Day featuring “Create in Me a Clean Heart” and “Pater Noster”:
“…I was especially happy with two rich pieces, “Create in Me a Clean Heart” and “Pater Noster”, from contemporary American composer Dan Locklair (b. 1949), who deserves to be heard more often.”
» Clavier Magazine September 2004
A review on the publication release of The Five Senses: A Suite for Piano in Five Movements:
“The Five Senses: A Suite for Piano in Five Movements, by Dan Locklair, includes rich and refreshing examples of 21st century classical music… The imaginative suite should have a place in junior or senior recitals.”
» News Tribune (Duluth, MN), 24 June 2004
Samuel Black’s review of a performance of In the Autumn Days (Symphony for Chamber Orchestra) by the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra (Warren Friesen, Music Director):
“This symphony shifted from rhythmic to dreamy, followed by a chorale and a return to aggressive rhythms. All the energy missing thus far from the evening was concentrated in this work. Differently pitched drums competed with the brass for the melody. At another point, a lovely flute wisped a tune that was imitated by a solo violin. Harplike sounds from the piano accompanied gentle strings intoning a hymn. Ultimately, the driving drums and brass sharply brought the piece to a halt. Energy had finally arrived, but the concert was over.”
»Choir & Organ (England), March/April 2004
Roderick Swanston’s review of the first British review of the publication of The Æolian Sonata and Celebration for organ:
“The pick of these new organ works is Dan Locklair’s Celebration (commissioned in 2003 for anniversary celebrations of a North Carolina Music Director) and the three-movement Æolian Sonata (commissioned in 2003 by Duke University Chapel in North Carolina). Both works display a marked ability to write imaginatively and excitingly for organ, exploiting both a wide range of colours and techniques including double pedalling, rapid trilling, thick chords and wide tessituras. Celebration is a set of variations that bubbles with energy…. The Æolian Sonata… carries an inscription ‘In remembrance of the darkness of September 11 from which emerged hope for Peace and Joy in Thanksgiving’…. The work displays Locklair’s brilliant constructive and colouristic skills, and the final ‘Laudate Dominum’ has a fiery energy maintained right through to its replendent ending.”
» Times-News (Burlington, NC), 21 March 2004
Tom Dillon’s review of organist Peter Sykes’s World Premiere performance of Salem Sonata at the re-dedication of the restored 1800 Tannenberg Organ at Old Salem (Winston-Salem, NC):
“The highlight of the evening, however, was the premiere of “Salem Sonata,” written by Dan Locklair of Wake Forest University.”
» The News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), 29 March 2004
Roy C. Dicks’ review of The North Carolina Symphony’s performance of Symphony of Seasons (Symphony No. 1):
“Locklair’s piece is unapologetically programmatic and tonal, vividly depicting the year’s changes as inspired by British poet James Thomson’s epic poem “The Seasons.” The rousing fanfare and sweet melody of “Autumn,” the fluttering strings and burbling woodwinds in “Spring,” and the languid reflection and childlike dances of “Summer” easily conjure specific images. Best is “Winter,” in which one grand, long melody builds from an icy, bleak opening to a monumental, windblown climax.”
Classical Voice of North Carolina [CVNC] (website), 29 March 2004
John Lambert’s review of The North Carolina Symphony’s performance of Symphony of Seasons (Symphony No. 1):
The Symphony of Seasons is “realized with levels of skill and understanding we have come to expect from our native son…”
» The Diapason, June 2003
Haig Mardirosian’s review of the publication of The Æolian Sonata for organ:
“…What a refreshing delight therefore, to notice a score which literally screams for the appraisal of masterpiece. The grounds for this conclusion are many, but none more telling than this: Dan Locklair’s The Æolian Sonata was hard to put down. In reading through the Sonata, one sensed an urge to learn it, perfect it, and put it into the active ready repertoire. Those are reactions normally reserved for the likes of Widor, Bach, or Messiaen. Does Dan Locklair’s name belong in such a rarefied atmosphere? On the face of this score, probably yes……If great art is about universals, then Dan Locklair has achieved a summit. Locklair’s sonata is that good.”