The Gift of Music

The Gift of Music (for SSA chorus and piano) by Dan Locklair was commissioned by and is warmly dedicated to the Winston-Salem Children’s Chorus (Barbara C. Beattie, Director) in celebration of their tenth anniversary season. Completed in December 2004, the piece is based on a poem by the esteemed American poet, Fred Chappell. Mr. Chappell’s poem was originally commissioned by Stuart Wright (Palaemon Press) as a broadside honoring American composer Aaron Copland’s 75th birthday. Entitled The Gift To Be Simple – a prologue to Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, the poem was published in 1987 by Louisiana State University Press in First and Last Words by Fred Chappell. As Mr. Chappell has paid tribute to Mr. Copland and one of his most beloved compositions, I have also seen fit to honor musically Mr. Copland in this composition. Though the early American Shaker tune, The Gift To Be Simple, that occurs in Aaron Copland’s ballet is heard only once near the end of this choral work, elements of its melodic and harmonic structure form the building blocks for the entire composition. The primary tonal centers of the piece (i.e. A-flat, G-flat and C) are the same ones used by Mr. Copland in the section of the ballet where The Gift To Be Simple appears.

Dan Locklair
January 2005
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Duration: ca. 4 ½ minutes

The Gift To Be Simple – a prologue to Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring
by Fred Chappell

O Music is that Valley of love and delight
Where Day turns on Day, Night turns on Night,
And looking clear about us, we genially see
A natural transparent Open Harmony.

For Music is Order, and Order we have found
Is of all Sane Things the sanest and most sound,
And to live close within it we must straiten our Lives,
Enlighten our dear Children, and cherish our sweet Wives.

For we have it within us to bow and to bend
To the Order within us that is our True Friend;
For Order is a Music of such health and delight
That in hearing it newly we come round right.

From First and Last Words by Fred Chappell, poet and copyright holder.
© 1989, Louisiana State University Press. Used with the kind permission of Mr.Chappell.

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