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Lux Aeterna

for full orchestra

Year:  2009   ·  Duration:  16m
Instrumentation:  2**2*2*2 4331 timp., perc., harp, strings

Year:  2009
Duration:  16m
Instrumentation  2**2*2*2 4331 timp., perc.,...

Composer:   Kenneth Young


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The title Lux Aeterna (Eternal Light) will have an appropriate reference point for anyone who chooses to interpret it. For me, at this time, it refers to a ‘light at the end of a tunnel,’ if I may be allowed to employ such a hackneyed cliché. When our lives become ‘ interesting’ and full of ‘opportunities for growth’; in other words, full of vicissitudes, we must maintain a relationship with ourselves which is positive, forward-looking and which leads us to create an even better version of who we truly are. To literally embrace the Eternal Light that is part of us all. During its composition I found the music occasionally veering away from this sometimes elusive light and so I would accordingly ease it back on to the path. Just like life really!

The music has gone through three incarnations along the way and is not at all the work I began writing in Hobart last year, although some of the original material is utilised. However, it has always been written with my friends and colleagues of the TSO in mind. I have been fortunate to have conducted them on a regular basis for 10 years. I greatly admire their ability to master a broad range of repertoire and am also very grateful for their friendship. I must admit to one or two ‘in’ jokes and references in the score with regard to certain orchestra members, however I think it would be ‘poor form’ to list these individually!

I have had numerous opportunities in the past 15 months to work on this piece in Hobart; beginning with 10 days in March of 2008 and then two periods during August and September while I had conducting engagements with the orchestra. Another 10 day period in February of this year when I was able to work solely on the piece very much cemented the path it was taking. During these extended visits I have been most grateful for the use of a delightful and historic cottage belonging to the Conservatorium of Music.

I have also been able to enjoy the company of good friends, especially Maria Grenfell and her husband, the fine guitarist, David Malone. Maria is an expat Kiwi composer living and working in Hobart where she is producing some wonderful music and achieving notable successes throughout Australia. We have had many a lively discussion over dinner at their Sandy Bay home.

Another opportunity I am extremely grateful for is to be able to workshop the new composition myself prior to its first performance. From 21-25 June I was once again involved in the Australian Composers School, an annual initiative where the TSO workshop and subsequently perform compositions by five emerging Australian composers. The TSO management generously set aside one of the orchestra calls to allow me to play through Lux Aeterna. An invaluable opportunity for ‘fine tuning’.

My opportunity to write Lux Aeterna came about because of the Trans-Tasman Composer Exchange. This is an initiative supported financially by the Australia Council of the Arts and Creative New Zealand, with the administrative support of the Australian Music Centre and SOUNZ. I would especially like to thank Simon Rogers for his advocacy and also Nicholas Milton, in anticipation, for agreeing to conduct the premier of this work.

Performance history

24 Jul 2009: Fire and Ice

29 Aug 2010: Brahms and Young