Charlene Lockwood
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Charlene Lockwood


Band Classical New Age


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"Review Clips from Life of Galileo"

"Charlene Lockwood has composed a delicate, haunting score." -- Lloyd Rose, The Washington Post.

"...the comforting sound of chant gives way to a hollow spacey minor melody, and by the time that ruthlessly political cardinal poses his contemptuous question, the aptness of Charlene Lockwood and Bill Hanff's musical metaphor becomes clear." -- Trey Graham, Washington CityPaper

"They get to sing some of Brecht's words to the music of Charlene Lockwood, who found a way to have her music sound like it might be authentic early 17th-century material while fitting the distinctly 20th-century requirements of the piece." -- Brad Hathaway, The Arlington Journal.
- Multiple

"Pop Quiz: Charlene Lockwood"

Without warning, it's the
Washington City Paper's superficially revealing inquiry into the musical mind.

We first encountered CHARLENE LOCKWOOD'S entrancing music on an Oasis sampler. Then we saw her composing credit in a 48 Hour Film Project movie. If we had seen Washington Shakespeare Company's production of Bertolt Brecht's Life of Galileo, we would have tapped our toes to Charlene's original score. And, if we'd been invited to Cameron and Julia's wedding, we would surely have been delighted by the original take on the bridal march Charlene was commissioned to create. (And which should become the new standard.) But the best way to surround yourself in Charlene's shimmering piano magic is to get a copy of her CD, Flickering Images. (Listen to samples here.) A piano prodigy since the age of 11, Charlene finds inspiration in the written work of Dickens, Melville, and Keats, among others, which she translates into haunting, evocative melodies and meditations. Ahhhh... Charlene will be performing a free concert this Saturday, July 10, from noon to 1:30 at the Warehouse Theater.

What equipment do you use and what's your favorite smoke?

CHARLENE: A Steinway B if I can get it—tremendous quality in the bass and the treble is not tinny. Not a big fan of Yamahas or Kawaiis, although I do own a Boston (Steinway designed, Kawaii built).

Used to smoke generic cigarettes from the local stop-and-rob, but quit when I caught sight of myself in a window. Only Brad Pitt and Clint Eastwood look good with cigarettes dangling from the corners of their mouths.

What kind of drums do you play and what pets do you own?

CHARLENE: Proud "owner" of an imperious chow dog named Ursa Minor, who is clearly reliving her illustrious past as a Chinese emperor/ess. An incredibly stubborn animal, very committed to thinking for herself. She and my engineer's chow, Enid, have made it onto ("ruined") more recordings than I care to think about.

I don't drum, but I did have a huge crush on Stewart Copeland at one point. (OK, last week.)

What's your favorite D.C. hangout and your favorite automobile?

CHARLENE: I love the chips at Lauriol Plaza but settle for bottled water at Glen Echo Park next to the Dentzel Carousel. I have an obsession with run-down amusement parks... . In fact, most of the images on my album Flickering Images come from Coney Island and the Thunderbolt roller coaster (tragically torn down a couple of years ago to make way for a baseball stadium parking lot). I love Hains Point on a misty morning (the giant's arms extending into space), and the Birchmere is an excellent source for live music. Riverby Books on Capitol Hill for afternoon tea and cookies.

I grew up in cult-of-the-car land, California, and went through a series of '60s muscle cars, including Mustangs and Dodge Chargers. I used to drag race and would cruise around Napa and Santa Rosa looking for some competition, although I never did race Harrison Ford (American Graffiti). I think my favorite car is a '69 Mustang Fastback like Steve McQueen's in Bullitt. Second in line would be a '57 Fury (like Stephen King's Christine). That thing could fit an extended nuclear family.

Too cool.

What's the worst place you've crashed and your worst haircut?

CHARLENE: Rome. A hostel. Three to a bed. Fifteen to a room. Fleas a-hoppin. What a dump.

Worst hair? Try spraying Sun-In when you're a brunette (just to get that lovely blonde streaky thing going). Yeah, right. Red frizz. Definitely my Bozo the Clown moment. It took a long time to grow out.

Worst roommate and best audience?

CHARLENE: Best audience is the dog. Even though there are a lot of interruptions, I never hear criticism—and no pointers. Quite a relief. After the dog, probably the bar crowd that heard me playing "Cry Me a River" one night and decided to spontaneously start singing the words to the song—and singing some of their own words, unfortunately.

Worst roommate? Let's just say we used to give tours of the room. Nice person but definitely needed help from Queer Eye.

Explain your band name and define your sound.

CHARLENE: The parents have to answer for the name, and frankly, I think they have some explaining to do. An acquaintance once said: "Charlene? Do you mean like that horrible dwarf on Dallas?" Yep, that's right.

Sound: I set the standard for neo-romantic piano pop. I think I've invented it. No one else knows what it is and when they ask, I have to say: It's me!

Flickering Images has a couple pop songs, some solo piano, and multi-instrumental pieces. Think of George Winston (only better) with a touch of Norah Jones and Emmylou Harris and throw in some tango, some fantastic strings, some ethereal flute and spine-chilling bass and you'll be hearing Flickering Images. - Washington CityPaper


LP: Flickering Images, available as CD, and digital download. All tracks are available individually as digital download.

1 Morning Ride
2 Reunion
3 Velveteen (vocal by Steve Sweeney)
4 Poem
5 Another Carmen
6 Loomings
7 Pastorale
8 Barley
9 Faerie Round
10 Dance in the Conservatory
11 Queequeg
12 The Shepherd's Carol (vocal by Kip Ledger)
13 Winter Garden
14 Earley Rising

Single: "The Shepherd's Carol" b/w "Winter Garden", available as CD-single and digitial download.

Single "Still Ride Horses" available as digital download.

Music Suite: Vineyard Music, available as digital download. All tracks are available individually as digital download:

1 Prelude I
2 Wedding Party March
3 Bridal March
4 Postlude
5 Meditation



The challenge of telling stories drew pianist/composer Charlene Lockwood to both stage and music. Since the age of 11, she has worked to tell stories in new ways.

The daughter of an opera singer, Charlene studied piano and voice as a girl, but when competition time came around, she made a mark for her independence as much as for her placements — singing a capella, when all the other young vocalists were accompanied, playing her own compositions as a pre-teen, when the other pianists were providing a steady diet of “Für Elise” and “Ice Castles.”

“Whose was that?” a judge asked her parents, unbelieving that Charlene’s selection was original. Her study and competition were soon expanded to include what seemed clear as her true talent, composition, and it was for composition that Charlene eventually enrolled in Shenandoah Conservatory.

But Charlene’s precocity was not limited to music. She also became a prolific reader while still very young, plowing her way through the great works of literature, Western and others, and her trips to the theatre became focused on how music and drama could complement each other to fully bring the audience into the story. At Shenandoah, and later San Francisco State University, Charlene studied theatre as well as music, trying to learn about all aspects of the dramatic arts — makeup, shadow puppets, dramatic structure. Like the music, it was all just storytelling to her.

Charlene worked in music and theatre on both the east and the west coast before coming to Washington to study at the Shakespeare Theatre. But it was working with another local company, the Washington Shakespeare Company, that Charlene won her greatest acclaim, composing a critically celebrated score to Bertolt Brecht’s Life of Galileo. She has since composed the soundtracks for a number of independent film projects, including a documentary on the Falun Gong, entitled “With the Strength of Belief” and “The Finnian Cycle”, an independent film making the festival rounds.
While clearly a descendent of Romantics like Liszt and Chopin, Charlene takes much of her inspiration from literature, and the compositions which make up her ambitious debut album, Flickering Images, are derived from some her favorite works, John Nichols' The Wizard of Loneliness, Herman Melville's Moby Dick, Michael Malone's Handling Sin, as well as works by Dickens, Henry James, and John Keats.

Charlene's compositions have been described as "delicate and haunting," by The Washington Post and, when coupled with her sensitive touch on the piano, transport the listener into the story — a rapture from which her audience doesn't always want to return.