Pillar of Fire

Pillar of Fire (Preview)

Instrumentation:

Piccolo, Flute 1&2, Oboe 1&2, English Horn, Clarinet in Eb, Clarinet in Bb 1 2&3, Bass Clarinet in Bb, Bassoon 1&2, Contrabassoon, Alto Saxophone 1&2, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Trumpet in C 1/Flugelhorn (plunger, harmon mute without stem), Trumpet in C 2&3 (plunger, harmon mute without stem), Horn in F 1&2, Horn in F 3&4, Trombone 1 2&3 (straight mute), Bass Trombone (straight mute), Euphonium (2), Tuba (2), Contrabass, 4 Timpani, Piano, Bass Drum, Suspended Cymbal, Crash Cymbal, Xylophone, Marimba, Vibraphone (2 bows), Crotales, Gong, 4 Tom-toms, 2 Bongos, 2 Congas, Slapstick

Program Notes:

Pillar of Fire was composed in the spring of 2016 and was named the winner of the 2016 Baylor University Composition Contest. The piece is approximately 7 minutes in duration, ternary in form, and features a neo-tonal language that emphasizes the division of the octave into 3 equal parts. The namesake and inspiration of the piece comes from a passage in Exodus: “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.”(Exodus 13:21, NIV) The image of a pillar of fire that begins on the ground and reaches endlessly into the sky, burns so brightly that it is painful to look at and so hot that nothing can approach it, and is the manifestation of the God of Israel, inspired the harmonic and melodic ideas. At the root of these ideas is the division of the octave into 3 equal parts. This concept serves to invoke images of the Holy Trinity and is the forefront symbolism in the piece. This composition is an exploration of the guidance that God gives to His people. The above verse from Exodus may seem like a simple narrative passage; however, upon deeper reading, it becomes evident that the passage still applies to God’s people today. During the day, when the path is clear and free of obstruction, God protects and gently guides His people; but during the night, when the path is dark and losing your way is much easier than staying on the path, God is a Pillar of Fire to show the Way and fill His people with His light. This imagery inspired the larger sections and the emotional arc of the composition.