Shafts of Sunlight Through Stained Glass Windows
for Antiphonal Brass & Percussion
Duration: 4.5 minutes
LEFT GROUPING: Trumpet in Bb (or C), Horn in F, Trombone
MIDDLE GROUPING: 3 Percussionists (1 Xylophone, 1 Vibraphone, Claves)
RIGHT GROUPING: Trumpet in Bb (or C), Horn in F, Trombone
Shafts of Sunlight was born of the idea of mimicking through music the way light is scattered into its component frequencies when passing through a window or prism. The opening “scattered” chords is the scattering of sunlight, and throughout the piece, we hear different colors and different interpretations of this idea represented through music.
Structurally, the piece works through the diatonic circle fifths (while visiting a couple of other keys for tonal variety) before returning to a “lifted” (now in Lydian mode) and “timeless” (unaccompanied by percussion) reprise of the opening scattered chords.
It's seven sections (the eighth section being a varied reprise of the first), are like taking a tour through a cathedral in the shape of a cross, experiencing the unique way sunlight passes through the stained glass windows of each wall as the day progresses.
Although a conductor may help keep the piece together, it may be played without a conductor. Each player should be tuned into the metronomic beat of the claves. The final section may by led by the two trumpet players, maintaining eye contact, and using the bell of their horn to (subtly) beat time.
This piece would work wonderfully in a cathedral, a wide concert stage, or an open atrium.