We are delighted to introduce as a guest columnist for CVNC the distinguished American composer Dan Locklair (http://www.wfu.edu/~locklair/), Composer-in-Residence and Professor of Music at Wake Forest University, who has just completed his second tour of duty as Composer-in-Residence at the Brevard Music Center and Festival, and whose music will surely be known to many of our readers. We approached Locklair early in the summer, when we learned of his assignment in this performing and teaching environment, and invited him to send an after-action report on his activities, which included renditions of some of his own compositions and which coincided with the release by Albany of a CD devoted entirely to his orchestral music. Locklair writes: “I sought to keep a diary (which I don’t normally do because I forget to write in it), and I feared that I wouldn’t be able to read my pen-written reflections now that the ink has gotten cold. Though I feel I am better at writing notes than words, I hereby submit a sketch of the Brevard summer [that I trust will be] informative of ‘The Brevard Experience.'”


Even though the 2002 Brevard Music Center (BMC) season did not officially get underway until the June 20 dress rehearsal of Verdi’s Falstaff , there was activity before that date. With Manhattan School of Music/BMC Jazz Institute now a part of the Center’s program, public performances began on June 14 with a jazz concert. Two other special events – the ’60’s pop group The 5th Dimension on June 15 and Leon Botstein conducting the American Russian Young Artists Orchestra on June 16 – also occurred before the 2002 faculty and approximately 400 students arrived (for a total of about 600 people on campus). Many people don’t realize that, although the Festival, now in its 66th season, occurs every summer, the BMC has a full-time, year-round staff whose main job is to make sure that each season is successful, artistically and audience-wise. Special events simply allow things to get underway sooner, bring in funds and have a head-start, drawing upon the numerous residents and tourists in the region.

Week 1

My first impressions upon arriving at the BMC on June 19 – the day of Opening Convocation – were a mixture of the familiar and new. This year I was honored to be invited by Artistic Director David Effron to serve as the 2002 Composer-in-Residence for the Center. My original response to his request was that, due to my heavy commission schedule and prior commitments, I could only commit to half of the season. I already knew what such a large amount of time away from my home and spacious studio in Winston-Salem was like for, in 1989, then Artistic Director Henry Janiec had asked me to serve as the 1989 Composer-in-Residence. Being very attached to my creative space, I don’t create as well away from it, my wife Paula, and our dog, Riley, so I felt that I could only give three weeks. Calling on behalf of Effron, Director of Education Steven Zvengrowski explained that Karel Husa did not desire to do an entire residency either and asked how it would be if the two of us could share the 2002 appointment? Since I had already committed to be in Philadelphia for a performance of a work of mine in early July, it was decided that I would do the first four weeks and Husa would do the remaining weeks. However, about ten days or so before the start of the season, Husa developed some health problems that would limit his stay to a weekend, if at all. Steve then asked if I would consider staying for most of the season. Under the circumstances, I agreed. So my arrival on June 19 had a real sense of déjà vu all over again! What was immediately new (at least to me) was a handsome new logo at the entrance of the BMC. What was familiar was the beautiful and peaceful drive by the lake on the way to the also familiar Broyhill Administration Building, where my room keys and packet of materials awaited me. This year I would be housed in the latest addition to Brevard’s campus, the handsome 1998 Burt Alumni House. With the opening convocation at hand, I unpacked quickly.

In 1989 there was no organized composition program at Brevard. Indeed, I appear to have been the first Composer-in-Residence regularly to teach composition at Brevard (having been cornered by some 12 students over the waffle iron in the cafeteria early on in my ’89 stay asking if I might work with them!). Until then the Composer-in-Residence was only expected to oversee rehearsals of his music, to compose (not teach), and to give public lectures. Now, in 2002, however, a most exciting composition program is in place under the direction of David Cutler, an Assistant Professor of Composition and Musicianship at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. He brings to the program a background rich in both jazz and “classical” music and, of equal importance to Brevard, he brings tremendous energy (with, seemingly, little need for sleep!). This year, a group of twelve composition students from the U.S., Honduras, and Mexico were accepted by a competitive audition process involving scores and tapes. They ranged from high school students to graduate students, and my first meetings with them occurred on June 20, when in short, private sessions we decided upon composition projects that might be completed in full or part during the seven-week session. Weekly, hour-long lessons were scheduled. The composition program truly puts their noses to the grindstone, for all take orchestration and the high school students take theory as well (with Robert Palmer). In addition, there are regular 1-1/2 hour master classes each week on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:00 p.m. Each day at Brevard there are concerts, and the composition students are strongly urged to attend as many as possible and especially concerts on which a piece by the Composer-in-Residence or any other modern composer’s works appear. Developing the craft of composition and, hopefully, emerging with your own voice is a life-long process. It is labor-intensive and a rich knowledge about music past and present is essential. For these young composers, “The Brevard Experience” seeks to prepare them in a very thorough manner.

Following dinner in the cafeteria on June 20, I presented to the composition students the first of my four Thursday evening masterclasses (with David presenting the same number on Tuesday evenings), titled What has shaped me as a composer: The Music of Dan Locklair . After all, when you are going to work closely with a composer, you should have some idea what that composer is “about!” We were launched!

Week 2

My private composition sessions with the students were scheduled for Monday through Thursday afternoons. As is my custom, I do my best creative work in the mornings. The Great Room of the Alumni House became both my studio in the mornings and teaching studio in the afternoons (only occasionally getting bumped due to Brevard’s serious space problem). My second masterclass for the students, on July 27, was entitled The Choral Muse (Building on the past in order to write quality new choral music) .

As private composition sessions commenced, so too did rehearsals of my music. My first piece to be done at Brevard was “Freedom’s Gate (A Fanfare for Two Brass Quartets and Percussion).” Conducted by Sarah McKoin, it opened the June 28 concert that also featured the well-known conductor and Brevard alumnus Keith Lockhart (who had already spent a week at Brevard presenting masterclasses).

My next programmed work, HUES for orchestra , was scheduled for two days later, opening the Sunday June 30 3:00 p.m. concert with the BMC Festival Orchestra conducted by Effron. I heard the first rehearsal of the piece on June 26 and was most impressed with both David’s grasp of the score and the overall quality of the Festival Orchestra. Of Brevard’s three orchestras, this one is the best, being made up of the Center’s most outstanding students and faculty members who were from 40 states and 10 international countries. Brevard is truly a Festival with an ever-wider reach.

I simply could not have hoped for a more brilliant performance of my HUES for orchestra than the one I received on June 30. Further, Albany Records chose to launch the new Dan Locklair: Orchestral Works CD (Albany Troy 517) on that same day. Before and after the concert, I autographed copies of the CD, which contains as its opening piece HUES for orchestra . Winston-Salem Journal music critic Ken Keuffel came to Brevard for that concert, both to experience Brevard for the first time and to review the concert for the Winston-Salem Journal and, nationally, for “Music in Concert” of the American Record Guide . Several weeks earlier he had interviewed me for a story about Brevard and my residency. During the course of the interview, I made the statement that Brevard is really “the Tanglewood of the South.” Though there are many other fine festivals throughout the region, what makes Brevard special is its magnificent setting in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. With approximately 140 buildings on campus, this setting is a unique environment for music-making, just as the Berkshires make the Boston Symphony’s summer home an inspirational place to be. In his enthusiastic July 7 Winston-Salem Journal review of the June 30 concert (available in the paper’s archives at http://www.journalnow.com/ ), Ken Keuffel said: “As much as I love Tanglewood, I would much rather hear a symphonic concert in Brevard’s 1,800-seat Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium than Tanglewood’s Koussevitzky, with 5,000 seats. The former hall is far more inviting, promising to reveal far more details and pleasures to most anyone there.” He went on to say: “The music making at last Sunday’s concert was first-rate in every way.” He praised each work on the program, including Effron’s brilliant performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and the operatic selections “sung by stellar soprano… Deborah Voigt.” It was, thus, a brilliant day in Brevard that music critic Keuffel helped convey to many regional readers.

Week 3

Brevard during the first week in July was alive with an array of concerts, recitals and the first musical of the season, Oklahoma! . I was in Philadelphia for performances of my music that week and didn’t return to the Center until July 6, when I was joined for the week by my wife Paula. A concert by the Transylvania Symphony Orchestra on that day was conducted by Luis Biava, Conductor-in-Residence for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Like chamber music, guest conductors are now a more regular part of Brevard, providing variety to listeners and musicians alike.

Week 4

The week of July 8 was a busy one, especially because the principal trombonist of the BMC Festival Orchestra and director of the Trombone Choir, Bill Zehfuss, reminded me that there is a tradition that the Brevard Composer-in-Residence contribute a new arrangement of Taps for one of the Trombone Choir’s upcoming 10:30 p.m. Sunday evening mini-concerts played from the Dining Hall. So, on top of full score proofs to correct for my new Symphony No. 1 (“Symphony of Seasons”), a brass quintet to revise, multiple engraving projects and lectures to prepare, I added Taps to my list and quickly did my arrangement. Unfortunately, due to personnel problems, a long-scheduled performance of my “Dream Steps” was cancelled for the July 8 evening chamber music concert. July 11 was my first public Composer’s Lecture. This talk, “Do not take up music unless…: A composer’s musings on ‘classical music’ in our time” is now posted on the web site of Jeffrey James, my personal representative, at http://www.jamesarts.com/releases/july02/DL_Lecture.htm .

Following that lecture was a chamber concert featuring cellist Clyde Shaw and violinist Akemi Takayama, of the Audubon String Quartet, and violinist Erez Ofer in the new Porter Center on the campus of Brevard College. This chamber music concert was one of several to be presented in this space. The acoustics are excellent and, certainly, the air-conditioned comfort was welcomed by many (being a trade-off for the symphonic night sounds of crickets and frogs at the outdoor Straus Auditorium).

This week, distinguished conductor, composer, jazz historian and educator Gunther Schuller’s Conducting Institute (July 7-20) got underway. At 77, he shows no signs of slowing down. We enjoyed many daily conversations during his stay. In addition to numerous projects in all areas, Gunther is currently working on his autobiography. His manuscript has now reached his 25th year, and he sees the completed book being upwards of 800 pages! He said several times: “Wish me good health that I finish it!” Don’t we all, for his long and rich musical life has come into contact with so many “giants” of the 20th century, and it will be a perfectly fascinating book. On July 14 Gunther joined Effron in conducting an all-Richard Strauss concert. It was fascinating to hear two splendid conductors conduct the same orchestra in the same composer’s music. David’s visceral and stirring “Salome’s Dance” and “Ein Heldenleben” formed exciting bookends to Gunther’s more restrained and delicately-colored “Don Juan.” Gunther had showed me in the score a particular passage that he intended to do just as Strauss wrote it, yet virtually all other conductors over the years have ignored Strauss’s markings. Personally, I’m not a Strauss fan, but this concert led me to hear this music as I had never before heard it.

Also on July 14 the orchestration students had readings of their pieces with a small ensemble of students conducted by David Cutler. Since the pianist of the ensemble didn’t show up, I was recruited to sight-read all the piano parts. Thus I could not hear fully the results of each student’s effort. Still, I scribbled many notes over each score. Clarity of notation seems to plague many composers of all ages. I place a great deal of emphasis on notation with my students and, along with comments on the scoring itself, felt it important to convey my comments to them. Even in the midst of so much high-level music making at Brevard, mentoring and teaching are, after all, at the heart of “The Brevard Experience.” At the close of the day I conducted my arrangement of Taps with the Brevard Trombone Choir, a piece we’d rehearsed earlier in the afternoon. What a lovely sound is the trombone choir! Joining the Brevard Trombone Choir that evening was Charlie Vernon, a Brevard alumnus and now bass trombonist with the Chicago Symphony. What a player he is!

Week 5

At about this mid-point in the Festival, things had achieved a sense of steadiness. Good, stimulating talks with Gunther continued daily as new faces arrived. These artists included conductor Arthur Fagan – soon to move to Germany – who was present to prepare for his July 21 concert featuring Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4. Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods drew a good campus crowd at its July 18 dress rehearsal, all leading to the public production on July 20. John Greer, the show’s general manager and conductor, told me over dinner the following week about his constant amazement over the craft within the music of this score, with Sondheim’s Broadway shows having more depth below the surface than most others.

In addition to regular teaching, my third masterclass for the composition students, entitled Ensnared by Percussion , was on July 18. It was a special one for me. Its aim was to teach something about writing for percussion via use of examples of Varèse’s innovative all percussion piece, “Ionisation,” and my own percussion/organ concerto, “Constellations.” But this masterclass marked the first time that I had read from an interview that I did in the mid-’90s with publisher Franco Colombo. Colombo was the first to publish Menotti and the only Varèse publisher. I was the last composer contracted by Colombo, and my wife and I developed a deep friendship with him and his family. He was also the publisher of Villa-Lobos and Respighi. The Old-World relationship of composer-publisher is typically a close one, and with Colombo and his wife, Elvira, that relationship was especially close. A modest man (who didn’t even read music!), Colombo trained as a lawyer in Italy yet became a trendsetter in the music-publishing world. As a result, he was a very powerful man in the music world. Publishers have not traditionally gotten much credit, but their role on behalf of composers throughout history has been significant. I once asked Colombo if he’d mind my taping an interview with him. He wasn’t terribly excited about the idea, but, nonetheless, agreed to do it. I promised him that the results of the interview would not be published unless he gave his permission. So, on a trip to Toronto in the ’90s, we spent an entire afternoon and evening together with a tape recorder. After reading the transcript of the interview many months later, he and Elvira felt like it sounded too much like “cocktail party talk,” so he never gave me permission to publish the interview. Since he conveyed such wisdom about the present and future of publishing, as well as reflections on Varèse, I read to the students some of his insights and, like with all teaching, hope that they gained from his words.

Due to an injury, violinist soloist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg had to cancel her June 21 BMC Festival Orchestra appearance. She was scheduled to play the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and Arthur Fagan was already at Brevard when the cancellation occurred. Gil Shahan was named her replacement. Only four days before the concert Arthur learned that Shahan wished to program the John Williams Violin Concerto (instead of the Mendelssohn). Parts and score only arrived late on Thursday and Arthur went to work learning the score (with the orchestra seeing it for the first time on Friday!). All went well at the Sunday concert, though to me the piece had little profile. What DID have profile was the touching encore from John Williams’ score to Schindler’s List , made all the more poignant by the fact that Arthur’s parents, both freed by Schindler and appearing in the Spielberg movie during the ending scenes, were in the audience.

That evening was the performance of my The Boswell Songs by Canadian soprano Lisa Lowry and her piano accompanist from Louisiana, Donna Clavijo. We had had a rewarding rehearsal together during the week, so it was little surprise to me that my song cycle was especially wonderfully performed and received.

Week 6

The first Student Composers Recital occurred on July 23. I was so proud of them but must confess to a bit of agony on that day since it was the first anniversary that my wife and I have spent apart since our marriage 19 years ago! What made me especially happy about the student’s pieces was their individuality. Eclecticism has not been a bad word in many years now, and the students’ work showed that.

My second Composer Lecture, given on July 24, was entitled Noting what’s seen: Reflections on the inspiration of the visual arts on music . After some overall observations about the impact that extra-musical stimuli has on my music, I used slides of five paintings from the Reynolda House Museum of American Art (Winston-Salem) that inspired my trio for flute, cello and piano, “Reynolda Reflections.” Scheduled to be performed on the July 31 Brevard Chamber Music concert, the three performers graciously agreed to be present to play live musical examples from each of the piece’s five movements. Following my lecture was a fine chamber concert (highlighted by Penderecki’s powerful String Trio [1991]) by The Diaz Trio.

On the morning of July 25 I was invited by Transylvania Symphonic Band Conductor Kraig Alan Williams to hear a rehearsal of my “A Pilgrim’s Lot” (scheduled to be performed on July 27). As I told the band members at the rehearsal, there has to be some reason for a composer to be alive and this is it! In truth, the opportunity to coach with performers is one of the great strengths of the long-running Brevard Composer-in-Residence program, which was begun in 1978 with support from Mu Phi Epsilon International Music Fraternity. Elie Siegmeister was the Center’s first Composer-in-Residence. My final masterclass with the composition students occurred on the evening of July 25.

Henry Janiec is much-beloved at Brevard. He served the Center with distinction as Artistic Director from 1964 to 1996. While there he personally listened to every applicant’s audition tape, ran the administration (debt free!) and conducted the BMC Festival Orchestra (all the while serving as Dean of the School of Music at Converse College). Henry is a very humble man with a wonderful self-deprecating sense of humor. Thus it was with great delight that I observed him moving into the Alumni House on July 24. It was he who first invited me to Brevard as Composer-in-Residence in 1989. Years earlier, as an elementary school boy, I heard my first live orchestra (Charlotte Symphony) under his direction. Brevard’s Trustees declared July 26 “Henry Janiec Day 2002” and bestowed upon him its highest award at the evening’s “Broadway at Brevard!,” a concert Henry himself skillfully and delightfully conducted. Pops concerts often get looked down upon by those of us in the “serious” classical realm, but I think there is something to be learned from them for the passion and communication that they generate.

The next day, July 27, my “A Pilgrim’s Lot” was wonderfully performed by the Transylvania Symphonic Band during their 1:30 p.m. concert. This concert also featured the Transylvania Wind Ensemble in two sturdy works by Husa and concluded with the Transylvania Symphony Orchestra performing Aaron Copland’s always stirring “A Lincoln Portrait,” narrated by BMC President John Candler. That evening with the third Brevard orchestra, the Repertory Symphony Orchestra, the Center celebrated some of its finest student talent as the winners of the BMC Concerto Competition were featured in concert.

The Sunday afternoon BMC Festival Orchestra concert on July 28 opened with Husa’s short and vibrant “Celebración.” I was sorry that health problems kept him from attending, for he would have been delighted. Though our ages are about 30 years apart, Husa and I share the same (August 7) birth date. I feel in excellent company with this outstanding Czech/American composer! Following the Husa work was the Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 with soloist Abbey Simon, and the concert concluded with a most dramatic Mahler Symphony No. 4. What that orchestra does under Effron’s direction is truly impressive!

Sunday evening in an unscheduled “official” concert, works by Berio, Boulez and Stravinsky were performed in Straus Auditorium. It is David Cutler’s dream to establish a new music ensemble at Brevard and the large and enthusiastic crowd for this concert clearly showed that there is support for it. All performances of this challenging repertoire were at high levels, but the pièce de résistance of the program was Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Tale” as conducted by one of our student composers, Jayce Ogren. A master’s student in conducting at New England Conservatory of Music, Jayce’s performance was a delight, showing solid understanding of the score.

Week 7

On the downhill drag now!

The Student Composers Recital on the evening of July 29, like the earlier one on July 23, made both David and me proud! These students had been terrific and both of the recitals showed why. Ranging from age 15 to almost double that, all twelve were totally supportive of each other throughout the entire season. Stables, the theory and composition teaching area, complete with computers for computer engraving, is the building where virtually all these students truly camped out (and it IS air-conditioned, unlike most of their rustic Brevard “home” dwelling places!). David has structured a very intense composition program and the growth seen in each student this summer was a joy to behold. In addition to the masterclasses given by David and me, each student had the opportunity to prepare and deliver to the other students a presentation that spoke about his or her own music. Either live or via tapes, they could also play musical examples of their works so all got to know each other personally and musically. With technology, of course, there can always be headaches and the fact that by this date we were on our third new printer only underscores that when it works it’s great and when it doesn’t it’s a pain!

The music presented by the composition students was as varied as each individual. They prepared creative advertisements for both concerts, saw to the design and making of most creative programs, and all of the performances were at a high level. Further, for the July 29 concert they prepared and hosted a reception. The large audience in attendance applauded enthusiastically throughout the concert. So, too, did David and I, as we also beamed with pride over the culmination that both these concerts meant to these students.

Don Pippin arrived on Monday evening to prepare to conduct a Special Event Concert involving Marilyn Horne on Tuesday July 30. Don, for many years head of music at Radio City Music Hall, is an old hand at Broadway and the concert scene. Our paths had not previously crossed, and we had some lovely conversations. His new setting of some Stephen Foster songs was being premiered on the concert; they are lovely and were well-received by the packed audience that came to hear this renowned American mezzo.

I met students for final private composition lessons on Monday and Tuesday July 29 and 30. The final push for them all was now the Wednesday July 31 Student Composers Reading. At this two-hour session, each student led the Repertory Symphony Orchestra through orchestrations that were products of their study in orchestration and their own independent compositional work. Some chose not to do an orchestration of an original work, but others spent the seven-week period composing a short orchestral work, orchestrating it and copying score and parts. What an opportunity it is for a student composer to hear his or her work played by an orchestra (and have it taped, too)! It is all too rare, but this July 31 session did just that and was eagerly anticipated by students and their teachers alike! It was an extraordinary afternoon and, again, one that showed tremendous growth well beyond what could have been imagined for such a short period of time.

I had one more event before I had to leave early on the morning of August 1. The Wednesday July 31 Chamber Music Recital was the last one of the season and, as a result, was a lengthy program. But it was a rich and varied concert and was a perfect way to end an energizing stay at Brevard. My “Reynolda Reflections,” performed by flutist Helen Blackburn, cellist George Work and pianist Douglas Weeks, was beautifully played and wonderfully received.

As my work as Composer-in-Residence was finished and I packed up to leave the Center on August 1, I noted that the revision of my brass quintet is almost complete, two engravings are almost complete, and three separate rounds of full score proofing of my 130-page Symphony No. 1 (that the Louisville Orchestra will premiere in October) were completed and returned to my publisher. Even as my own work for the summer is ongoing, so, too, was the 2002 Brevard Music Festival, for the music still rang through the mountains, with Mozart’s Don Giovanni remaining for the final week, as well as student chamber, orchestra and band concerts. The 2002 season finale occurred on August 4 when the BMC Festival Orchestra and choruses from around the area teamed up to perform Verdi’s Requiem . I am sure it was a stirring, closing performance that, in itself, served as a prelude to the 2003 season. Such is the ongoing “Brevard Experience.” May it ever continue.

by Dan Locklair (Composer-in-Residence for the 2002 Festival Season)

[Also please note that Locklair’s “Dream Steps” will be performed by the Mallarmé Chamber Players on November 3. See our series listings for more information.]