2010, Revised 2012
February 13, 2011
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Matthew Kraemer
The Light-Bringer alludes to the story of the fallen angel, Lucifer, who strove to usurp God’s power and was cast out of heaven as punishment. (The Latin name “Lucifer” literally translates as “light-bringer.”) But rather than represent this narrative programmatically through music, the piece is structured around the number 666, “the number of the beast” mentioned in Revelation 13:18. While this number has at times been interpreted as a reference to ancient emperors, religious leaders, or modern governments, it has traditionally been accepted as a symbol of an antichrist aligned with Lucifer and therefore another representation of Lucifer.
With that pretext in mind, the number six is embedded within the structure of the work. This can be heard on a small level with musical motives and sonorities being repeated six times, melodic and harmonic intervals of sixths and its inversions, a melody or harmony of six pitches, a progression of six chords. On a larger level, the work is built on six major sections with the main climax occurring roughly 666 seconds (eleven minutes and six seconds) into the work. On a visual and performance level, tempo markings are all multiples of six.
The work is in one movement but maintains the contrast of tempo and sectional structure typical of a symphony (a tripartite structure representing God’s Trinity and ultimately the foretelling of Lucifer’s doom) . It begins with six block chords from the brass, played while strings sustain subtly shifting sonorities. Then the instrumentation is reversed, with the repeated block chords played by the strings. After a series of variations on these motifs, the music shifts suddenly into a vigorous symphonic scherzo with energized passage of agitated sixteenth-notes - a cosmic battle-scene, perhaps, as angels swoop with clashing swords in aerial combat. It is war music in its evolution of epic conflict and dramatic rupture.
The subsequent section can be seen as a traditional slow movement. In a restrained tempo, but maintaining the emotional intensity, it is the relative calm before the final storm. The reduced dynamics and slower surface rhythms, combined with gentle harp punctuations, create an anticipation of the finale. In the concluding section, all the preceding rhythmic and textual-motifs are recalled for a final, climactic reckoning. At the peak of the dramatic intensity Lucifer is divinely banished and slinks away to a dark pianissimo abyss in the double basses, as harp and timpani toll his demise with faltering weakening pulses.
Awarded the 2012 Jacob Druckman Prize; Aspen Music Festival
Winner of the 2012 New England Philharmonic Orchestra Composition Competition
Selected for the 2011 Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Earshot New Music Readings
Awarded 2011 BMI Composer Award
August 15, 2012: Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by James Feddeck
October 29, 2011: New England Philharmonic, conducted by Richard Pittman
February. 20, 2011: University of Michigan Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Yaniv Segal