“Dan Locklair’s Requiem is a feast for the soul as well as for the ears.” And so, Christopher Gilliam, music director of the Winston-Salem Symphony Chorus, invites us to learn more about Locklair’s work as the orchestra prepares to perform it on October 30 at Wake Forest University. The nine-movement, 45-minute work premiered on November 1, 2015 in Winston-Salem as part of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s All Saints’ Day celebration, led by John Cummins. Locklair’s Requiem – composed for four soloists, SATB chorus, strings and orchestra – was written in memoriam for his parents. The Requiem is set in English and uses elements of the Latin Mass, along with non-traditional solo movements featuring additional Biblical texts of comfort and assurance. “Any piece that I do is personal,” Locklair observes. “But, due to its commemoration of my beloved parents, my Requiem is even more so. Although its nine movements utilize texts from the traditional Requiem Mass, it also makes use of scriptural texts that offer comfort. Requiem is in English. This, to me, allows for more clarity of meaning.”
Gilliam continues. “Dan’s juxtaposition of warm, resonant string orchestration for the full chorus singing the traditional Requiem texts, alongside the sumptuous organ accompaniment for the SATB soloists singing Biblical texts about the hope of resurrection, make the work—rather than a dirge—an encouraging and nurturing Requiem for the living. The work is at once reflective and exuberant, reverent and celebratory. From the first notes of the piece, the gentle bowed strings of the orchestra and the ebbing flow of the organ accompaniment settles the listener into meditative bliss. Ever shifting meter and colorful harmonic passages score the text perfectly; the chorus need only sing the right notes, for the vocal lines ebb and flow so naturally and soar so precisely and exactly as they ought that the listener will have no difficulty understanding the composer’s explicit intent. Dan’s Requiem is perhaps the best modern expression of these revered texts set in recent years, and it is a piece that is quickly—and rightfully so—becoming a staple in the choral / orchestral repertoire. It is my distinct privilege to have the opportunity to perform this work, not only as the conductor of a regional Symphony Chorus, but as Dan’s friend and colleague at Wake Forest University.”
Locklair also shares some notes about his choral work for anyone interested in studying and performing it. “The Requiem is accompanied by string orchestra and organ. The string orchestra and organ are both present in all of the odd-numbered choral movements; but the organ alone accompanies each of the four vocal soloists (SATB) in movements 2, 4, 6 and 8. This allows the soloists to independently rehearse with the organist, thereby cutting rehearsal time and performance costs. Although the string sonority of Requiem will be enhanced by a larger string component, the piece is equally effective with a very modest-sized ensemble. This is an important and practical consideration where performance space might be a problem. I hope that potential performers of my Requiem will enjoy getting to know the piece.” Locklair’s Requiem has been recorded on Convivivium Records (CR078) featuring The Choir of Royal Holloway, conducted by Rupert Gough. To view and listen to Locklair’s Requiem, visit his “Sound & Score” files here.
More Locklair Requiem news: Locklair’s choral work will also be featured in additional All Saints’ Day observances on October 30 at The Burton Parish Church Choral Evensong service in Williamsburg, VA, led by director Rebecca Davy, and again on November 6 when Stephan Casurellin conducts the Christ Church Cathedral Choirs in Cincinnati.