I and the Night Sky: Nocturne for Orchestra

for orchestra | 2009

I and the Night Sky: Nocturne for Orchestra is a one-movement work for orchestra.  It was inspired by a striking image I saw while visiting my family in Arkansas, though the work is not programmatic in a strict sense. My parents live in a somewhat rural area, so the view of the night sky is dazzling due to the lack of interfering city lights.  Every time I visit I take some time to enjoy observing the sky, and on this particular occasion I was profoundly impressed with the clear and striking definition of the Milky Way cutting through the middle of the sky.  In this work I have tried to musically capture my reflections on this beautiful image.

            The piece stems from two motivic ideas, which are announced at the outset and developed throughout the work.  It is in three sections: a slow and lyrical opening, followed by a fast, shimmering middle section, then closing with a very loose return to the opening material.  Throughout the piece, I was interested in creating layers and textures through contrasting tonalities (much of the piece is based on a polychord – Bb Major and D major) and contrasting rhythmic activity (continuous notes layered over a slow chorale).  My goal was to capture what I see as a dichotomy about the night sky.  On one hand, it is dazzling and active, with an infinite number of stars dancing as far as the eye can see and as far as the mind can imagine.  Trying to take it all in can make your head spin.  On the other hand, there is a peaceful grandeur about it that reminds me of a cathedral – a massive, awe-inspiring space that incites humble worship of a brilliant Creator.