Locklair: Phoenix for Orchestra

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Conductor Robert Moody; photo courtesy: Opus 3 Artists


“In autumn 2006, Winston-Salem Symphony Music Director, Robert Moody, heard a concert performance of the original version of [my antiphonal work] Phoenix Fanfare and Processional, and, soon afterwards, phoned to ask me if I would consider creating a version of it for orchestra.” And so, on the eve of the Charlotte Symphony’s February 28 and March 1 concerts — guest conducted by Robert Moody, Dan Locklair invites us to learn more about his Phoenix (for orchestra).

Phoenix (for orchestra),” Locklair observes, “began its life as a three-minute, brass sextet fanfare (with organ and percussion) entitled Phoenix Fanfare. Commissioned by Union Theological Seminary in New York City, [the work’s 1980 premiere celebrated] the reopening and dedication of the newly renovated James Memorial Chapel. Since the Chapel had been virtually gutted and rebuilt, a title evoking the mythological Locklair Charlotte Sym logobird that rose from the ashes seemed most appropriate…From the beginning, the piece was conceived as an antiphonal composition. For practical reasons, in 1985 the brass scoring of Phoenix Fanfare was reduced to brass quartet and was also joined with a newly composed processional and [I gave it] the new title, Phoenix Fanfare and Processional.” This version premiered in fall 1985 at the Opening Convocation of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem (NC) (where Locklair serves as composer-in-residence and professor of music). Phoenix Fanfare and Processional quickly gained a wide following and continues to be a popular, internationally performed work.

Locklair continues, “[When Robert Moody contacted me,] he went on to explain that he wanted to [open] his 2007–08 Winston-Salem Symphony season with the world premiere of the new piece and then repeat it later in the season at the Arizona MusicFest. Since oLocklair Charlotte Sym Phoenix scorene of the halls had a pipe organ and the other did not, [we] agreed that the presence of an organ would best be reduced to an optional one and I [began] transcribing the work for orchestra…As in the original [version], an antiphonal brass ensemble is a vital part of the [orchestral] composition… and the dialoguing is now between the off-stage brass ensemble and an identical one contained within the on-stage orchestra. As the opening bars progress, the activity of this dialoguing quickly grows to include the entire orchestra….” Locklair’s Phoenix Fanfare and Processional is currently highlighted and on sale in The Subito Store. View this score and other Locklair works for organ here.

More Locklair: On March 4, Locklair’s new choral work The Cloths of Heaven receives its premiere by the Wake Forest University Concert Choir conducted by Brian Gorelick. The three-minute work for SATB ensemble is a setting of Irish poet William Butler Yeats’s well-known, expressive, and provocative poem originally entitled, “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven.” Afterward, the ensemble travels to Ireland where they’ll present the European premiere during their tour.

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