for large mixed ensemble
A lumen is a unit of measurement of the intensity of light. This title came to me after I ran across two phrases having to do with light. The first, “The History of Luminous Motion,” is the title of a novel by James Bradfield, which, despite the title, is a very dark book, indeed. The second, “a luminosity as of liquid fire” comes from a description found in Joyce Carol Oates’ novel, Because It Is Bitter, And Because It Is My Heart.
As I often do when I discover a phrase that I think might make a good title, I wrote them down and filed them away. Not long after I read these books, I received a request from David Stock to write a piece for his Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and his student group at Duquesne University. I immediately thought of these phrases and looked for an overall title to unify them. Lumens was the result-an obvious cognate of “luminous” and “luminosity.”
These pieces have little or nothing to do with the literary sources they were taken from; instead I used the titles alone to inspire the music. The first movement is fast and fleeting, with rapid changes of dynamics and tone colors. In contrast, the second movement is slow, lyrical and builds gradually to its high points.
Lumens was written at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in June and July of 1995.