Program note

Mvt. I: “Sunrise Ignites Daybreak’s Veil” (Con forza, feroce con bravura) opens with an introduction containing three forceful and diverse ideas presented by full orchestra:  (1) a low rhythmic and percussive pedal point on “F” followed by (2) a three-note triplet figure in the brass overlaid by (3) a rapid swirling cascade of arch-like upper woodwind phrases cast in a stretto-like texture.  These primary elements form the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic materials developed in the work.

Following the introduction, the strings present a theme derived from the pedal point rhythmic gesture and the brass three-note figure leading to an extended series of upward thrusting six-note sonorities and a long increasing assertive line (first brass, then later strings and woodwinds) partitioned into two parts.  The movement ends with a return to the introductory material and a sustained pitch on “G” providing a link to the next movement.

Mvt. II: “Calliope’s Rainbowed Song” (lontano) The rapid arched woodwind phrases in the introduction to the first movement, occur in a variety of divergent contexts throughout the work, not only as small scale gestures but in larger more extended designs.  Cast in a major arch-like palindrome form, this movement begins softly, first with solo clarinet followed by a repeated piano sonority that forms the structure of a theme played by solo flute.  Gradually, this theme builds to an exuberant midpoint, followed by sections that appear in reverse order finally ending quietly and gently with solo clarinet and a high ethereal violin harmonic on “A” that carries over to the third movement.

Mvt. III: “A Kaleidoscope Blooms” (lacrimoso) a slow expressive and elegiac movement for oboe (for Andrea Lenz, principal oboe of the Reno Chamber Orchestra), opens with a low dark repeated pedal played by piano, contrabass and tam-tam.  Sudden rapid woodwind gestures contrast and frame a succession of gradually ascending oboe phrases that accumulate ever-greater urgency as the music approaches its maximum intensity at the end.

Mvt. IV: “Morning’s Embrace Confronts the Dawn” (lontano…leggiero.)  The rapid and aggressive woodwind phrases in the first movement now emerge in delicate and shimmering string textures.  These earlier elements prepare for a stately but urgent chorale theme that builds forcefully to the palindromic music of the third movement, the introductory materials of the first, and a final climatic conclusion.

—Joseph Schwantner


© 2008 League of American Orchestras. Chasing Light..., page 12, by Joseph Schwantner, copyright © 2008 by Schott Helicon Music Corporation. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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