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“Gathering Sunset”



Commissioned by David Lockington and the Grand Rapids Symphony


2+pic, 2, 2, 2 – 4, 1, 2, 1 – timp+2 – hp – str

“Gathering Sunset”
00:00 / 01:14

Mathias Alten's "Gathering Pumpkins at Sunset" of 1907 contrasts the flaming sunset sky against the dark earthy colors of a toiled land. It shows the diligent efforts of farmers harvesting the last crops in preparation for Michigan winter. And yet, the harvest of the painter is focused on the expanse stretching above and deep into the horizon. The colors of autumn are mixed above the darkened silhouettes of the workers: As the sun lowers below the horizon, the sky blazes from yellow to orange and eventually fiery red. To the artist, the sky contains brighter, more piercing colors than the orange pumpkins, which are left in the shadows. These colors are gathered to provide warmth during the gray, colder months.

Music, as with color, provides this warmth for the soul. Fall oranges and yellows are felt and heard rather than seen. The bright sounds of high strings shine atop the deep, earthy colors of the brass. Rays of sunlight radiate through the harmonic series rolling in the woodwinds. As the music progresses through the sunset cycle, simple melodies from childhood are drawn, reminiscent of past sunsets. Even as the sunset draws to a close, it becomes deeper and more vibrant, building in grandeur and intensity, until it bursts with one final flare. The passion and energy gathered from the sun now burns on within each soul, supplying a flame that will carry through to the next cycle of the sun.

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