Clouds that Veil the Midnight Moon for chamber orchestra
2019 - Duration: ca. 6'30"
Instrumentation: fl, ob, bsn, cl, tpt, hn, tbn, tba, 2 perc (vib, mar [4.3]), 2 vln, vla, vlc, cb
The impetus for this work was a visual image—clouds passing in front of the moon on a relatively clear night. I was immediately struck with a corresponding aural image—a melody, radiant and ever-changing, obscured by shifting and evanescent textures which overlap and pass like the clouds, alternately obscuring and revealing the ever-present melody.
Musically, I drew inspiration from the works of Harrison Birtwistle, especially his practice of creating monodies and “musical mechanisms.” There are homages to the opening pulsed unison from Silbury Air and the trading solos of Secret Theatre. At the end I borrow from my own work. The “endless melody” that concludes a previous chamber orchestra piece titled One Track Mind becomes one of the clouds, providing a competing melody. Ultimately the “moon” melody from this piece wins out, although the victory is not complete.
The title is borrowed from a poem entitled “Mutability” by Percy Bysse Shelley. The first stanza reads:
We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed and gleam and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly! yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost for ever