One of the most interesting aspects of this project is certainly the possibility of the two of us being related by family. My amateur genealogist cousin says that it goes back 200 years to a family who owned a farm in upstate New York. This is unable to be proven, but after a while when you explore the music and the man, you begin to wonder where “critical mass” takes the theory into actual reality. A few comparisons:
Normand left New York at the top of his “game”. There’s a list in his biography of about 25 different publishers who he worked with from the mid-40’s to the mid-50’s. Then he leaves New York and his family behind. Why? Indications in the biography were that he didn’t want somebody staring over his shoulder rejecting or approving of his work anymore. He felt he’d earned his wings as it were. Who can blame him? Yes, he lost the attention of all the publishers, so important in his day. But a mature composer who was able to develop his talent completely by coming west was the result.
I did the very much the same thing. I received a phone call from Craig Purpura ( see “Listening” page) one day in New York about 1978, asking me to take over the band. I declined thinking I wasn’t ready. Years later, after touring with Meredith Monk, freelancing in Europe and the East Coast and even going commercial with 4 years on cruise ships as a working pianist, I felt I was ready. But I had to come west just as he did. I began leading my own band at the age of 44.
Normand was only a few years older (47) when he came west with the teaching position in San Antonio’s Trinity College. A few years later, after arriving in Laramie, he was able to get the Oratorio, “Children of God” in the works. As is stated on the album liner notes, this was his seminal accomplishment. His mid-career and the years with Nadia Boulanger and the commercial work in New York were about to pay off.
This was also true with my life and work. I came to Los Angeles in the early 90’s ready to lead my own band. I began going into the studio with the “Rite of Passage” band, and those tracks were really the beginning of mid-career for me. This has lasted until the present. Only 3 years ago, I broke up the band after self-producing 3 cd’s, and am now involving myself in the real fusion of being a pianist and a composer as never before.
Normand may have lost a family, I also lost much to keep my career on the front burner. Was it worth it? I believe his answer would be the same as mine; a resounding yes!
I hope any who buy tracks from this cd will buy tracks from my jazz work, as you can see by my compositions for band how the L.A. Suite for Flute Octet, might happen. Notice the “be-bop” duet solo in the first movement. Some things never change even though we change clothes!! Please enjoy: the pleasure is mine. Unfortunately, this is where the comparison slows down. In all his years, Normand never really received much commercial respect. The Beveridge Webster recording of the 1935 Sonata is about it. That’s where this cd comes in.
I thank everyone involved in it’s production. See what you’ve done?
New CD Release!
Tribute:The Chamber Music of Normand Lockwood
A chance encounter with an Organ prelude one day created a curiosity that led to a major project. I had heard of Normand Lockwood and his music previously, but that’s about it. Playing his music that day started something that just continued to grow. After a relative of mine who is very interested in genealogy informed me that she couldn’t prove that we were related, it didn’t really seem to matter. I was hooked!
I’ve chosen music for this CD that I felt expressed so much of what Normand Lockwood thought, what kind of musician he was, and even what kind of man he was. To say his tastes were eclectic is putting it mildly. He was raised in a very worldly family. His mother and father both had strong European ties, and came from musical families that spent many years on the continent.
The ten songs sung by soprano Ursula Kleineke-Boyer date from his teenage European years with “This Morn thy Gallant Bark” with poetry by Mary Shelley (1925), to “For Instance” (1998). The accompaniment styles are wide-ranging, as are the moods, with the deeply serious and romantic “Gallant” to the sarcasm of “He Who Remains Cheerful”, to the almost minimalist “She Dwelt Among Untrodden Ways, and “For Instance”. A challenging and rewarding set beautifully sung by Ursula.
The “Sonata in Two Movements and Coda for Flute and Piano” (1969), with Laura Osborn playing flute, includes the entire kitchen sink of techniques in use by composers in the mid-twentieth century lexicon including polyrhythms, sound “pictures”-(1st move), serialism, and a very linear approach to atonality in the tone row motive that inspires the 2nd movement. The almost sonata-allegro form of the 2nd movement keeps the feeling of the piece very grounded in spite of all the textural and tempo changes. The ethereal Adagio at the end serves to remind us of the timeless but yet deeply felt experience of music itself; more of a comment on the previous material then a remembrance of it.
I also have 4 pieces of my own on this album. I picked pieces that I felt were in a way part of the experience that Normand Lockwood’s music gave us. There were plenty of similarities. He loved poetry and working with the voice. My composition Yuki-Yuki contains Marilia’s striking vocal techniques expressing the poetry of her gifted husband, Gozo Yoshimasu through my electronic-multi keyboard twists and turns. My “L.A. Suite for Flute Octet” certainly contains some of those mid-20th century techniques for instrumental writing that N.L’s generation gave us. My “Premonition 2” is from a dance commission from El Camino College in 1998. I’ve long been interested in sacred choral music just as he was. The text here is the Agnus Dei heard in so much Christian sacred music and especially in the Catholic mass that Normand was so moved by.
We are looking forward to recording this music in the Spring of this year, and I will keep you informed about the progress of this exciting project. I wish to thank the people at the American Composers Alliance and the archive library for Normand Lockwood’s music at the Univ. of Colorado-Boulder and specifically Eric Harbeson for their kind and generous assistance. Also many thanks to Kay Norton who has written a splendid biography of Normand Lockwood and his music which has been of great value in learning so much more about this man and his music.