premiered June 6, 1996
Joan Rowland, piano
|Nightstars came about in response to a request from Joan Rowland for a short piano piece that would fit well in a colorful program of nineteenth and early twentieth century music. The resulting piece seems evocative to me of certain poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins and paintings of Van Gogh which marvel at the grandeur, complexity, and controlled chaos of the night sky.
As the visible sky is made up of apparently identically shaped points of light whose fascination derives as much from their individual glitter as from their spatial relationships, the piece is based on one three-note chord, which nearly always appears in the same spacing. All harmonic motion in the piece is derived from varied transposed juxtapositions of the same harmony.