A DuBose Heyward Triptych

A DuBose Heyward Triptych (for SATB chorus, a cappella) is the result of a 2000 – 2001 commission from The Carolina Chamber Chorale (Dr. Timothy Koch, Founding Music Director and Conductor). Based in Charleston, SC, this professional chamber choir gave the World Premiere of A DuBose Heyward Triptych at the 2001 Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston. I wish to extend my gratitude to Dr. Koch and his board for awarding me this commission. These individuals were invaluable to my discovery of the DuBose Heyward poems that I have set here. Mr. Heyward, known the world over as George Gershwin’s librettist for the opera, Porgy and Bess, was a most sensitive poet.

In three movements, the three poems set in my A DuBose Heyward Triptych all pay tribute to Mr. Heyward’s beloved city of Charleston, SC. All first appeared in a book published in 1922 entitled Carolina Chansons (Legends of the Low Country) by DuBose Heyward and Hervey Allen.

As with the poem itself, the first movement, Silences, is quite narrative in nature, both from the choral parts as well as in the vocal solo parts that appear throughout. Mr. Heyward’s poetry reflects upon the bells of famous Charleston churches: The 1764 English-made bells of St. Michael’s Church, the bells of St. Phillip’s Church where, during the Civil War, its bells were cast into cannon, and the more modern bells of St. Matthew. As explained in the “Note on the Chimes” in Carolina Chansons, “…all the bells are the voice of the town. They speak for her silences, which are eloquent.”

The second movement, Landbound, celebrates the sea and air that surrounds this port city of Charleston and is the shortest movement of my cycle. The setting of this buoyant movement ends with a line that permeates the spirit of the setting: “And will thrill to life again.”

The third movement, Dusk, is a meditation on the beauty that is Charleston. My setting of Mr. Heyward’s words is lush and rich, often alternating (in eight-part texture) the men and women’s voices of the choir.


1. Silences = ca. 7′ 30″
2. Landbound = ca. 2′ 30″
3. Dusk = ca. 6′ 00″

Total Duration = ca. 16′ 00″

Dan Locklair
March 2001
Winston-Salem, NC