When Morning Stars Begin to Fall

When Morning Stars Begin to Fall
(A Tone Poem for Orchestra)
Dan Locklair (b. 1949)

Program Note

When Morning Stars Begin to Fall (A Tone Poem for Orchestra) was composed between April and September of 1986 on commission from the Knoxville (TN) Symphony Society (Kirk Trevor, Music Director). Maestro Trevor and the Knoxville Symphony gave the World Premiere of the piece on 23 April 1987, as well as a second performance on 24 April, in the Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville. Revisions to the score were made in 1990 and in 1999. The inscription of the score reads: “To the memory of my dad, Archie Greer Locklair (1916-1986).” Ironically, my beloved father, who died during the composition of this work, was born on April 23, the date of the 1987 World Premiere of When Morning Stars Begin to Fall.

The title of this multi-sectioned tone poem was suggested, in part, from an old Southern pentatonic folk tune, When the Stars Begin to Fall. George Pullen Jackson of Nashville, Tennessee, collected this tune in the North Carolina mountains in the 1930’s for his book, White and Negro Spirituals. The melody, as well as another pentatonic hymn tune (Night Thought from the Vermont-New Hampshire Christian Harmony of 1805), are freely and briefly quoted during the course of the piece. Their melodic and rhythmic shapes helped generate musical materials for the entire composition.

Like so much of my music, its impulse is given by extra-musical ideas, especially words. The extra-musical stimuli in my music are not really necessary for the listener to know in order to enjoy the piece, but their awareness may help enhance communication at another level. The poetic words that inspired this piece are below and they are original. Their form lays out the shape of When Morning Stars Begin to Fall.

Night springs
fantasies illumined by

up to the dance of the night!

Springs day
on the radiant glow of

Morning stars begin to fall!

Dan Locklair
Winston-Salem, NC