A few years after I composed Lux Aurumque I began work on a musical called Paradise Lost. The central theme of the story is about an angel without wings who longs to fly, and at the climax of the show the onstage angels sing the word “paradise” over and over, a glorious, cathartic anthem. The song, the big finale in the show, is called Bliss.
When I made the wind symphony transcription of Lux in 2005 I decided to replace the existing middle material with fourteen measures from Bliss. Partly I wanted to take advantage of the forces of the wind symphony, letting the horns sing high and triumphant. But mostly I felt that the addition of the new middle material brought a greater dramatic arc to Lux, and for me at least, greatly affected the way I heard the ending of the piece. With the addition of those fourteen bears the sonic colors of the last twelve measures felt shinier and more, well, golden. And the added concept of “paradise” gave the entire piece a sense of soaring aspiration that I don’t think it had before.
Now the circle is complete: I’ve taken the wind symphony version and reimagined it as a choral octavo. I love both versions and can’t decide which should be out in the world, so with deep humility and gratitude I offer them both. As always, Lux works best with a pure, balanced, shimmering, tone; a strict attention to the dynamic colors; and a slow, luscious pacing.
Lux Nova premiered at the iTunes Festival on 17 September 2014 with the Eric Whitacre Singers.