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VIEW SCORE: EMERGING LIGHT (SCORE–PDF)
INSTRUMENTATION: Piccolo,3 Flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), 2 Oboes, English Horn, 3 Clarinets in Bb, Bass Clarinet in Bb, 4 Saxophones (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone), 2 Bassoons, Contrabassoon, 4 Trumpets in C, 4 Horns in F, 3 Trombones (3rd is bass trombone), Euphonium, Tuba, Timpani, 5 Percussion, Harp, Piano
PERFORMANCE NOTES: Spanning the spectrum from sensitive to triumphant, this award-winning work is an unusually varied, colorful piece for Wind Ensemble in one continuous movement.
When the basic idea for Emerging Light struck me, I was completing an extended, three-movement work for six players. As I often do when a project nears completion, I was becoming aware of vague ideas beginning to surface for my next work. I had already begun to think about writing a wind ensemble piece as I had never written for this medium, and I knew that after spending a great deal of time with this chamber work, I wanted to return to a large ensemble. Normally, I don’t like to work on more than one piece at a time, but my chamber piece seemed particularly frustrating that morning, so I began to think more seriously about the wind ensemble piece I wanted to write.
When I compose music, I often spend many weeks sketching and planning before I feel ready to write the opening. Rarely do I hear a short idea in my mind and know that this is the beginning of a piece. Emerging Light began with such a rare experience. I knew that the piece needed a delicate, sparkling beginning, and when I sat down at the piano and played my initial idea, I knew immediately that this was the opening—it remains intact as the first two phrases of the piece.
At this point, I began to sketch out ways that this idea could generate melodic and harmonic material and think about how these could develop further, and I began to sense that the opening would be only a hint at the main idea, an awakening of the material. As I worked, I began to associate this opening section with the imagery of light emerging from darkness, just a hint at first, and then increasing gradually. I began to sketch other sections of the work based on the imagery of sunlight on water, or moonlight emerging from clouds, etc. with the idea that just as light is the constant of the universe, the primary melody and harmony of the opening gestures would be the constant of the piece—always present but always subtly shifting, always in a new permutation and evolving.
The work is in a single movement of about 15 minutes, and is in the form of a double “wedge,” the first lasting about 5 minutes before dropping off into sparser permutations of the main idea. The second wedge follows a tense climax and comprises the last 5 minutes of the piece, leading to the final triumphant emergence of brilliant light.