I lived in Illinois for seven years and spent many hours driving between cities through the seemingly endless swaths of farmland that fill the Midwest. Sometimes in the night, the usually featureless dark landscape would come alive in a strange way, with hundreds of blinking red lights dotting the vast fields. These lights on the wind turbines blink in synchrony across many miles of fields to warn pilots that there are numerous towering obstacles below. Within the depthless infinity of the night, I find it mesmerizing to see such a large group of otherwise invisible objects connected by the synchrony of light, gradually moving together across the horizon as I drive by.
This piece has a consistent regular pulse that is heard from beginning to end and is first stated by itself on a bowed vibraphone, joined shortly afterward by the woodwinds. The strings gradually add a rustling to the texture to create a sense of speed. Gradually, a slow and lyrical melody emerges in the horns and trombones. As one drives at interstate velocities, the countless red beacons seem to move slowly, creating a cognitive dissonance of simultaneous fast and slow, which can be heard once all the elements of the opening texture are finally heard together.
As the blinking red lights slowly traverse the horizon, the music continues to evolve, with the repeated pulses changing register and tone color. About halfway through the piece, there is a sudden change in texture, with a new, quicker melody first heard in the trombone and trumpet. It is mirrored at a slightly slower pace in the high woodwinds and bells. This rhythmic interplay exemplifies the various layers of blinking red beacons that one sees passing by, and is punctuated by an aggressive pitch bending transformation of the endless pulse. After another abrupt change in texture, the piece builds one final time towards a high point that combines the expansive melody and the layered rhythmic idea before fading away into the distance.
Luminous Synchrony was commissioned by the Quincy (IL) Symphony Orchestra Association, commemorating its 75th anniversary and premiered on April 22, 2023 with music director and conductor Bruce C. Briney.
Duration: ca. 9'
- 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets in Bb, 2 Bassoons
- 4 French Horns in F, 2 Trumpets in C, 3 Trombones, Tuba
- Timpani + 2 Percussion
- Glockenspiel, Crotales, Vibraphone, Chimes, Hi-Hat, Suspended Cymbal, Snare Drum, Tam-tam, Bass Drum