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Nox Aurumque

April 29, 2009 at 10:27 pm UTC

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Nox Aurumque (Night and Gold) is the piece that just received its premiere in Minneapolis last month. As the name implies, it is sort of a ‘companion’ piece to Lux Aurumque (Light and Gold).

In writing it, I wanted to echo some of the musical material in Lux Aurumque, while at the same time filling it with themes from Paradise Lost. I asked Charles Anthony Silvestri (Sleep, Leonardo Dreams, Lux Aurumque, Her Sacred Spirit Soars) to write me an original poem in Latin, and as usual, he knocked it out of the park. Here’s the translation:

NOX AURUMQUE

Gold,
Tarnished and dark,
Singing of night,
Singing of death,
Singing itself to sleep.
And an angel dreams of sunrise,
And war.

Tears of the ages.
O shield!
O gilded blade!
You are too heavy to carry,
Too heavy for flight.

Gold,
Tarnished and weary,
Awaken!
Melt from weapon to wing!
Let us soar again,
High above this wall;
Angels reborn and rejoicing with wings made
Of dawn,
Of gold,
Of dream.

Gold,
Singing of wings,
Singing of shadows.

Besides using the ‘breathing’ gesture from Lux (crescendo for four beats, decrescendo for three, rest for one), I used the ‘longing’ theme from Paradise Lost. Here’s an example of that theme from the beginning of Little One, the song that opens Act II of Paradise. The cello plays the theme as underscore:

I also heavily quoted Close Your Eyes from Paradise Lost (which in turn quotes Water Night… isn’t this fun?):

I used a ‘light/dark’ chord for the words ‘war’ (bellorum) and ‘shadows’ (umbrarum). This chord is really the very first thing I wrote for Paradise Lost, way back in January of 2001:

nox-last-four-bars

And finally, I quote the ‘betrayal’ theme from Paradise Lost. The cello plays it here (the descending octatonic line at the end of Eldest of All):

Here’s a nice video of the premiere of Nox Aurumque, performed by VocalEssence and the St. Olaf Choir. After you start the playback, make sure you hit the HQ button (hq2) for highest quality.