Later this month, I will be traveling to Albany for the premiere of my new orchestral piece, Luminism, to be played by the Albany Symphony, led by David Alan Miller. This is part of the Albany’s American Music Festival, and the program will include music by John Harbison, Stacy Garrop, and Einojuhani Rautavaara. The concert takes place at EMPAC, a performing arts center on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Here is my program note for the piece:
When David Alan Miller invited me to compose a new work for the Albany Symphony, he asked me to consider writing a piece inspired by the paintings of the Hudson River School, the so-called Luminist painters. As I got to know the work of such painters as Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Edwin Church, and others, I took pleasure in their intense and sumptuous effects of light as it illuminates varied landscapes. I noticed how these painters explored the light of different times of day – dawn, moonlight, day, sunset. My work does not reflect on specific paintings, but is a meditation on the various forms of light throughout the day, as conveyed in Luminist painting. The piece is framed by passages that suggest the absence of light: I needed night to make day glow more intensely.
The Albany Symphony is playing very well these days – just listen to some of their numerous recordings. I am very much looking forward to reuniting with David (our first encounter goes back to a New York Youth Symphony premiere in 1987) and with the Albany Symphony (they premiered my Some Glad Mystery in 1992).
The image above at left is Morning, Looking East Over the Hudson Valley from the Catskill Mountains by Frederic Edwin Church, from the collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art.