In the Autumn Days

In the Autumn Days
(A Symphony for Chamber Orchestra)

1. Fast and vigorous
2. Gently moving
3. In tempo
4. Gently moving
5. Fast and vigorous

by
Dan Locklair (b. 1949)

Program Note

In the Autumn Days (A Symphony for Chamber Orchestra) was composed during the spring of 1984. It is dedicated “To the memory of Wriston Locklair (1925-1984)”, whose distinguished career as a critic included writings for Musical America and Opera News. At the time of his sudden death in 1984 he was Director of Public Relations and Assistant to the President at The Juilliard School in New York City. His impact on my life was very significant.

In the Autumn Days is a symphony for chamber orchestra in five movements, but is played without pause. It was the winner of the Omaha Symphony’s 1984 New Music Competition and its World Premiere was given in Omaha, Nebraska, on 20 April 1985 with Christian Tiemeyer conducting the Nebraska Sinfonia of the Omaha Symphony.

Movement #1 highlights all four sections of the orchestra and introduces melodic, harmonic and rhythmic material that is developed throughout the entire piece. It begins energetically with a roto tom flourish that presents the main pentatonic melodic idea that permeates the movement. Over rhythmic chords (made up of these pentatonic pitches) the trumpet states the pentatonic melody that is embellished with quarter-tones and half-steps. The strings soon introduce a second idea that is chorale-like in nature which, with the rhythmic, pentatonic chords, creates a sense of bi-tonality. Soon the woodwinds state a tritone-based third idea that is, like the first theme, jazzy in nature and related to the previous two ideas. The movement concludes with a restatement of the first idea (now in the strings) bringing the movement to a vibrant, though sudden, close. A solo flute lingers and, with its melodic tritones, forms the bridge to the serene second movement.

Movement #2 develops a tritone-based melody (from the third idea of Movement #1). It is developed by the flute and other woodwinds and is accompanied by lush strings, bowed vibraphone and suspended cymbal. After building to a climax, and a lessening of tension, the flute again serves as the bridge to the next movement.

Movement #3 begins with the piano introducing a pentatonic ostinato (reflecting the first idea of Movement #1) against a backdrop of high-pitched string harmonics. The winds develop a pentatonic, chorale-like idea reflective of the second idea of Movement #1. The flute again connects the end of this movement to the beginning of Movement #4.

Movement #4 is for double-string orchestra. The first orchestra consists of a solo (divisi) quintet and the second orchestra forms the larger ensemble. All strings are muted. The construction of this movement is akin to the baroque concerto idea whereby the concertino (small, solo ensemble) is featured both separately and as a part of the ripieni (larger, full ensemble). Musically, echos and after-effects of the sound are apparent throughout this movement. At the end of the movement the suspended cymbal and roto toms (reflective of Movement #1′s pentatonic idea) form the bridge that leads to the final movement.

Movement #5 recapitulates the ideas of Movement #1 but, following the statement of the third idea, “resolves” into a vibrant and highly rhythmic final section that brings In the Autumn Days to an exhilarating close.

Dan Locklair
Winston-Salem, NC
April 1984