“Caritas A Cappella Ensemble of Charlotte, NC is preparing Dan Locklair’s new work, Sing to the World: A Choral Cycle in Five Movements in Celebration of Music, for its world premiere on Sunday, May 15, 2022.” And so, music director Cathy Youngblood introduces us to the composer’s latest choral work which she will conduct at Myers Park United Methodist Church. Commissioned by Caritas in celebration of its fifth anniversary, the 18-minute, five-movement work features texts by: Walt Whitman; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; Phillis Wheatley; Henry Van Dyke, and Tomás Iriarte.
“Cathy Youngblood and I could not be happier!,” Locklair notes. “Sing to the World was completed in 2019 in anticipation of what was to be the world premiere later that year. However, COVID intervened and postponed it another year, then another year. In December 2020, though, the ensemble decided to give a virtual premiere of the third movement, ‘An Hymn to the Morning.’” [View the virtual premiere here.]
Youngblood continues. “Dan and I worked together to find existing poetry that would, in some way, celebrate how music touches our lives. We landed on 5 poems, varied in author, time period, style and message, but which have the common thread of celebrating music…So Dan went to work, setting them to music for a cappella choir….” Themes range from: the emotional impact of music; how it powerfully speaks to a variety of people in different ways; brings comfort to others; its invisible impact on the human soul, and in Locklair’s own words “[a reminder] that poetry and music needn’t always be serious.”
Youngblood adds, “Two years later, now that we’re finally rehearsing the work in person, there is a sort of holiness in being the first musicians to birth this music into existence. The work is both interesting and accessible, and we feel a sense of responsibility to let the music speak to us and tell us what it wants to sound like. We appreciate Dan’s use of the Lydian mode throughout much of the work, giving it a floaty, calm feeling, and creating intrigue. In the third movement, he masterfully incorporates the African-American spiritual ‘My Lord, What a Morning,’ a perfect pairing with his original work interspersed throughout. The heavier texts (movements 2 and 4) are wrapped in power and grandeur, a feeling heightened even more in the 4th movement with the use of the double-chorus texture; and in the final movement, brief and tongue-in-cheek, is a delightfully light dessert after a heavier meal. Strangely, the ‘celebration of music’ theme is even more meaningful now, after over two years of choral silence! We feel a sense of responsibility to let the music speak to us and tell us what it wants to sound like.”
Caritas is also partnering with local Classical Public Radio station WDAV 89.9FM to bring attention to the upcoming Sing to the World premiere. Visit WDAV to listen to an interview featuring both Locklair and Youngblood hosted by Rachel Stewart.