The Williams High School Orchestra will debut an original two-movement string piece by Winston-Salem composer Dan Locklair at its concert Tuesday, May 22.
The piece, “Burlington Muses: Two Imaginary Dances for String Orchestra,” was commissioned by Orchestra Director Veronica Allen, who contacted Locklair about collaborating for Burlington’s 125th birthday.
“Since I started teaching, I’ve always had commissioning a piece in the back of my mind,” Allen said last week by email. “It came about this year due to the generosity of Alamance Arts and [Executive Director] Cary Worthy, who awarded the orchestra a grant for this project. The rest of the funding came from ABSS and the Williams Zone Orchestra Boosters.”
Local historians provided inspiration for the tone of the piece. The two movements, Heritage and Transformations, represent Burlington’s rich history and journey into the future, and Allen believes citizens will enjoy that aspect of it.
“This journey from past to present and future is applicable not only to us … but also to individuals and really any other place,” Allen said. “I think the public will enjoy listening to the piece with that frame of reference, but they will also have lots of freedom to interpret it as they understand it.”
She says it’s been a joy and source of pride for the students to be able to perform a piece no one’s ever heard before.
Locklair is composer-in-residence and professor of music at Wake Forest University. A native of Charlotte, he has composed symphonic works, a ballet, an opera and numerous solo, chamber, vocal and choral compositions over the course of his career.
Locklair visited Williams on May 8 to rehearse the final product and give feedback.
“I think the turning point for the students came when Dr. Locklair came to an after-school rehearsal to give his feedback and explain a little bit more about the piece and his composition process,” Allen said. “Interacting with the composer and getting first-hand information like that is such a unique opportunity, and I think it helped make the piece a little more personal for the students.”
Reporter Jessica Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 336-506-3046. Follow her on Twitter at @jessicawtn.