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Awaiting the Dawn (2016)

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Daniel in rehearsal with Campanile Orchestra before the premiere performance. 04/10/2016.

 

For orchestra

Premiere: April 10, 2016, Stude Concert Hall, Rice University Houston, TX  by: Campanile Orchestra, Jerry Hou, cond.

Commissioned by: Campanile Orchestra

Duration:  ca. 13 min

Hear conductor Jerry Hou briefly discuss the piece here: 

Hear Daniel discuss the piece and sing the O Oriens chant: 

Hear excerpts of the premiere performance below:

 

Program Notes: Awaiting the Dawn begins by evoking atmospheres of deep night … when the night has worn out its welcome and the dawn is coming, not by efforts of people who are ready for it, but of its own accord.

To compliment my imagery of dawn, I chose to work in a chant that I love called Oriens Splendor Lucis æternæ (from the O Antiphons) which I also worked into my organ work Book of Visions: XI. Night Shall Be No More. The text translates to:

O Morning Star, splendor of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.…”

I continue to see the “night approaching dawn” as a fitting metaphor for life, and especially life at this point in history. No era is without its problems, nor ever will be, I believe. But “darkness and the shadow of death” have more than worn out their welcome in our times, and I believe it is both timely and right to hope for what is good, true, and beautiful.

A delicate, no-frills melody introduced by the clarinet opens the work: it is a straightforward and vulnerable melody not hiding behind complexity or density. And after traversing through different hazy or cloudy atmospheres, one can perceive hints of a forthcoming arrival. However, the eventual bombastic arrivals are belabored, somewhat forced, and without any staying power. Then comes the arrival of the full chant Oriens Splendor Lucis æternæ. This chant emerges in the violin solo, softly but resolutely, over what I hear as streams of light in the other strings. Thus the piece ends, not with a victorious cadence, but in a spirit of hope and desire.