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Solar Licht


When I began work on this commission, I had two initial guide ropes into the piece.  I knew I wanted to set text in Doric and I also knew that I wanted to write a piece that could utilise the multi-levelled architecture of the Art Gallery building.  


My initial searches for Doric writing quickly led me to the Elphinstone Kist website, where I found myself reading the poetry of Sheena Blackhall.  Her poem, Solar Siblings instantly jumped out at me.  I loved the colourful and contrasting images of the different planets, and the sense of lightness and humour in her writing.  And so it was that in thinking about filling the musical space within the Art Gallery, I started composing a “space-piece” in a very literal sense.  


For the performance of Solar Licht, four singers (drawn from the sopranos and altos) perform from the 1st floor balcony above the main body of the choir.  At times they take on the character of energetically twinkling stars of “yalla” light, and at other times, as observers of the world below.  The sounds of deep space are explored vocally as focus moves to the distant planets of Saturn, Neptune, and Pluto, (sounds based on NASA’s radiographic recordings made from their space craft and then converted into sound waves).   The Sun’s magnetic power and strength whirls in a canonic vortex, eventually casting focus back on Earth.  A sense of coming home prevails, of rest, as “soond” and “licht” dissipate, and the piece ends. 


My thanks to mentor and conductor, James Weeks, whose guidance helped shape the final version of the piece, and to all the singers of Con Anima Chamber Choir for their energy and skill in bringing the music to life.  


My heartfelt thanks to Sheena Blackhall for her kind permission to set her poem to music. 


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