Night with her Train of Stars (2009)
Instrumentation: harp, clarinet, violin, percussion
Commissioned by Michelle Gott
Night with her Train of Stars was commissioned by Michelle Gott, and is written for Harp, Clarinet, Violin, and Percussion. It is based on the painting by Edward Robert Hughes. As I have written a few pieces based on art paintings in the past, I have always wanted to write a piece based on this work, and Michelle’s choice of instrumentation was the perfect fit for Hughes’ vision in this canvas. Edward Robert Hughes (1851-1914) was a well-known English painter who worked in a style influenced by Pre-Raphaelitism and Aestheticism. Although it was not my intention to structure the piece coinciding with this movement in art history, I attempted to capture the overall tone, color, and spiritual image that Mr. Hughes was trying to depict.
Night with her Train of Stars is more or less an augmented sonata-allegro form. The main melody, or the “voice” of the mother angel in the painting, is the ‘unanswered’ theme prominent in the exposition and the recapitulation of the piece, as the structure of the canvas creates many mystical visions and ‘unanswered questions’ for the audience to interpret on their own. The introduction and the ostinato like coda depicts the swirling birds and flying angels in the painting, combined with the simple development section that sheds light of the Mother calming the baby in her arms, which is juxtaposed by the surrounding activity in the middle-ground and background of the painting. While I chose this painting from the periods of Pre-Raphaelitism and Aestheticism to write this composition, I am using elements of late-romanticism/impressionism, minimalism, a touch of film music, and contemporary techniques to make the soundscape more universal. Night with her Train of Stars was premiered at the Juilliard School of Music Morse Recital Hall on May 19, 2009.