Behold the Night

I have always enjoyed working with children's choirs. There is a purity and clarity in their sound which is unlike any other musical medium.

When Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra asked me for this new work, I immediately thought of A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare, both because it is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, and because of the magical atmosphere of the play. It seemed like a natural choice for children, because it has a fairy-like quality that children can relate to. As a child, I always hoped that fairies were real. Their magic takes us to another place, far from the world we live in.

The work opens with a short orchestral introduction, which leads to the first section, "Over hill, over dale", a bubbly and innocent song. An orchestral interlude changes the atmosphere to a more serious mood. The second song, "Now the hungry lion roars", starts with a solo flute accompanied by horn and strings, suggesting the spirit of nature haunting the night. The song gradually builds from mystery to exaltation as the night's secrets yield to morning.

"Behold the Night" runs for approximately 12 minutes in performance and is scored for children's chorus, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, celesta, and orchestral strings.

Larysa Kuzmenko / 2011