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Dalton, Larry (24 April 1946-30 May 2009)

Arranger, conductor and keyboardist from Big Stone Gap, Virginia, who started out on the piano when he was only three and began formal studies at the age of seven.  He started composing at sixteen years of age.  In between high school and college, he toured with The Songsmen, a gospel quartet.

He enrolled in Oral Roberts University at the behest of churchman Terry Law and they, along with Don Moen, co-founded Living Sound in 1969.  They received an invitation to perform in Krakow, Poland, in 1972.  While there, Larry and Terry met Karol Jozef Wojtyla, a Cardinal who would eventually become Pope.

Some of Larry’s early arrangements included “Abide with Me” and “The Way of the Cross Leads Home”, published in 1973.  Artists and groups for whom he arranged include Paula Abdul, Al Green, the Oklahoma Sinfonia, Steve Perry, and the Tulsa Ballet Theatre.

In the mid-‘70s, Living Sound released The Great Praise Meeting! and Sing Around the World.  The latter proved to be prophetic.  Cardinal Wojtyla, now Pope John Paul II, asked Living Sound to perform for one of their largest audiences, a gathering of 65,000 a the Vatican in Italy.

Larry eschewed the road for a position as music director at Oral Roberts University.  In addition, he performed on Oral Roberts’ TV program and Richard Roberts Live.  He also made appearances on Hour of Power and The 700 Club.

He also organized the annual Christmas concerts in Tulsa, Oklahoma, such as the one held at Christian Chapel on 8th December 1991, where he performed “Silent Night” and “We Need a Little Christmas”.

More of his arrangements surfaced in the early ‘90s, including “Come and Praise the Lord”, “God Leads Us Along”, “Victory Medley”, and “Witness Medley”.

In 1993, Larry and the National Philharmonic Orchestra of London released In Excelsis Deo Praise Magnificat Christmas.  The video captured an Angel Award and the album received a Dove nomination, in 1993 and 1994, respectively.  They appeared on A Christmas Eve Concert with Charles Gerhardt in 1995 and Songs of Zion with Maurice Sklar in 2000.

Other artists and groups with whom he worked include the Bellevue Philharmonic, The Drifters, Dale Evans, The Four Freshmen, The Four Lads, The Lettermen, the Lima Philharmonic, Henry Mancini, the Nashville String Machine, Peter Nero, Cliff Richard, the SABC Orchestra, the Signature Symphony, the Sinfonia of London, Mel Torme and the Western Australia Symphony.

In 2003, Larry went on a mission to Africa, his eleventh such journey to the Dark Continent, where he played live music at All Saints Cathedral, the German School, the Rift Valley Academy, and Scott Theological College.

Books of his arrangements hit the shelves in the new millennium:  Classic Carols, Classic Gospel, Classic Praise, and Hymnprov.  There were also more CDs:  All-Time Inspirational Favorites Vol. 3, A Portrait of America, Reader’s Digest Music:  Abide with Me – Hymns of Gold Vol. 2, Reader’s Digest Signature Series:  Romantic Piano, and A Winter Festival of Music.

Larry arranged material for Bruce Dougall’s 2007 album, What a Gig That Will Be.  In 2008, it received Canada’s Instrumental Album of the Year in the category of Gospel Music.

The annual Christmas concert took place at Tulsa Community College on 5th and 6th December 2008.  It would be his last.  Larry died from a heart attack on 30th May 2009.  Memorials were held at Moore’s Southlawn Funeral Home and Tulsa Community College.

One does not have to wander far in a music store to find CDs or music books with Larry’s name on them.  He left behind a generous legacy of music, and much of his output, both audio and literary, is available online.

National Philharmonic Orchestra of London recordings
Medley:  Good Christian Men Rejoice/Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming/O, Come All Ye Faithful (Frederick Oakeley/Traditional/John Francis Wade)
Arranger & Conductor – Larry Dalton
National Philharmonic Orchestra of London
(CD:  In Excelsis Dio Praise Magnificat Christmas)

Here he is performing “Silent Night”…