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envoys of beauty

"If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.”

In his essay, "Nature," Ralph Waldo Emerson points out one of mankind's most common flaws: that we take for granted that which, while incredible, has become commonplace. I've been obsessed with astronomy and the night sky since I was in high school, even memorizing most of the major constellations and stars in the western hemisphere at one point. So when I came across this quote in an exhibit at Chicago's Adler Planetarium while I was in the beginning of sketching out a percussion quartet inspired by scenes from around the windy city, I knew it would be a part of the piece.

The piece gives each player short "cells" of material that they repeat for a certain duration before moving on to the next. These cells are of different lengths, and at times are in completely different tempi simultaneously, letting each player's sound wash and phase over the others. With dynamic swells throughout, as well as the range and timbre of the instruments, I hoped to create an environment that might remind the listener of watching the stars twinkle in the night sky.

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