Locklair: A Conductor’s Perspective

“Just because you write the music doesn’t mean that you know it from a conductor’s perspective.”

And so, Dan Locklair offers some insight into conducting his own music as he prepares for a November 2 concert in Roanoke, Va, featuring the St. John’s Choir – joined by ensemble members of the Winston-Salem Symphony – as they perform two of his works: Gloria and Requiem. The Gloria is a 12-minute work for SATB chorus, brass octet and percussion that was commissioned by the Choral Art Society of Portland, ME and premiered in December 1999. Locklair’s 40-minute Requiem (for SATB chorus, organ and string orchestra) premiered in November 2015 in Winston-Salem, NC, as John Cummins led the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Choir & Orchestra.

St. John’s Choir, Roanoke, VA

Locklair continues. “When I was based in Binghamton, NY, I conducted extensively and have continued to periodically conduct since moving back down south. I enjoy it very much but, of course, it takes an enormous amount of preparation to do it well. Since I am a full-time composer with constant deadlines and a full-time university professor with daily teaching obligations, the number of hours in the day works against my doing both on a regular basis. So, I stick to composing! But, the Roanoke concert, featuring my Requiem and Gloria, was a wonderful opportunity to conduct both of these works for the very first time…

“The processes of composing and conducting are quite different, with the former representing the creative process and the latter the re-creative process. Learning the scores from a conductor’s point of view only reminds me at times that, if all composers had to conduct their own music, they just might write easier stuff! But, all kidding aside, it is an honor for a composer to conduct his or her own music. By doing so you have the opportunity of conveying to the musicians and, then, to the listeners, your exact intentions. What an opportunity!”

More Locklair news: Last month, Subito’s own Founder and President Stephen Culbertson conducted Locklair’s “Independence Day” (from the composer’s Symphony No. 2, “America” ) with the Society of Musical Arts Orchestra (Maplewood, NJ). This month, Culbertson revisits Locklair’s Symphony No. 2 with a performance of “Thanksgiving Day,” as he leads the Ridgewood Symphony (Ridgewood, NJ) on November 16.