Locklair: The Harvard/ Ashmont Evening Service

Andrew Clark

On March 23, 2023, the Harvard Glee Club, University Choir, and The All Saints’ Choir of Men and Boys, Ashmont present the world premiere of Dan Locklair’s newest choral work The Harvard/Ashmont Evening Service. Music director Andrew Clark conducts the premiere — along with Edward Elwyn Jones — at Harvard Memorial Church in Cambridge, as part of the Choral Evensong Service. Commissioned by the Harvard Glee Club Alumni, the 10-minute work is scored for SATB and TTBB choruses and two organs, performed by organists Andrew Sheranian and David von Behren. In addition to the primary canticles, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, the commission also called for two additional new works — Seek Him (for SATB Chorus, a cappella,) and Salve Regina (for TTBB Chorus, a cappella). The concert repeats on March 26 at the Parish of All Saints, Ashmont in Boston.

Edward Elwyn Jones; Photo: Andrew Cate

Locklair shares some thoughts about his new work. “The Harvard/Ashmont Evening Service was commissioned to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Archibald T. Davison (1883-1961). Dr. Davison, after previously serving as organist at the Parish of All Saints Church, Ashmont, was the conductor of both the Harvard University Choir and Harvard Glee Club. Through his work with these institutions, and as faculty member of Harvard’s Department of Music, Dr. Davison championed music education at all levels. His powerful legacy includes books, articles, collections of scores, and a tradition of collaboration extending up to today through the Harvard Glee Club’s Archibald T. Davison Fellowship program, numerous joint musical projects, and new commissions. Owing to Dr. Davison’s vision and work, the rich and ongoing musical partnership between Harvard and the Parish of All Saints, Ashmont, continues.”

Locklair continues. “The fundamental tonal center relationships in The Harvard/Ashmont Evening Service stem from the whole-tone scale, even though the melodic and harmonic essence of both Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis lies with the Lydian mode. Underpinning the Nunc Dimittis is a descending whole-tone scale, heard in sustained pedal points over the duration of the piece. Not until near the end of the Nunc Dimittis is the sound of the whole-tone scale made obvious. Throughout Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, dialogues and antiphonal writing between the choirs and organs abound, all with the intention of freshly heightening the meaning of these powerful ancient texts and creating a thrilling sound that embraces the congregation.”

Upcoming: April 2023 brings two more Locklair choral performances: on the 4th, the Parkway Heights United Methodist Church Choir (Hattiesburg, MS) joins the University of Southern Mississippi String Ensemble for a performance of the composer’s Requiem, and on the 21st, the MIT Chamber Chorus performs the Locklair’s choral drama Instant Culture in Cambridge, MA.