The light that passes through it

The Light that Passes Through ItThe light that passes through it (2015) for orchestra is a three-movement work inspired by the life and artwork of Pacific Northwest glass artist Dale Chihuly. Each movement aims to express the brilliant and luminous qualities of specific Chihuly glass sculptures through orchestrational color and large-scale musical structure.

The first movement, “The Sun,” depicts the wildly vibrant and intricately constructed glass sculptures of the same title. The harmonic language of this opening movement contrasts darkness and light, while the ochestrational diversity portrays the intricate interweaving of hundreds of individual pieces that amount to a unified whole in the sculptures. The lively rhythmic energy of the movement paints the emotional experience of encountering such grand artworks.

The second movement, “Seaforms,” captures the rippling patterns in works of Chuhuly’s Seaforms collection through post-minimal formal processes. Phrases repeat and expand outward in time while the harmonic content similarly extends and grows in complexity as the movement progresses, generating massive waves of sound.

The final movement, “Niijima Floats,” is inspired by both the visual appeal of the large spheres of glass in Chihuly’s correspondingly titled series in addition to the multiple symbolic meanings behind the series. The series is originally inspired by Japanese fishing floats Chihuly would find washed ashore as a child; this influence of Japanese origins can be found in musical references to Gagaku, traditional Japenese court music. In the 1990s, Chihuly decided to throw his floats off a bridge in Finland, allowing them to be carried by the forces of the river’s current. Local boys would find the glass art and collect the works in wooden fishing boats, inspiring Chihuly to present the floats in a similar manner in the future. The music in “Niijima Floats” evokes the pull of strong river currents affecting musical material and neatly wraps up the piece as a whole through references to musical material from the previous two movements during the piece’s final moments, similar to the collecting of tossed glass art in wooden boats.

“We are less concerned with being narrative or figurative, but we are involved in the glass and the light that passes through it—the phenomenon of light being transmitted through colored glass.”

-Dale Chihuly, quoted in Rose Slivka, “A Touch of Glass,” Quest (Sept. 1979): 86.

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Click here to view a full score!

USC Thornton Symphony
Donald Crockett, Conductor
Recordings from orchestra reading sessions on 11/16/2015 and 4/20/2016

 

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