And yet the light returns was composed for the Western Wind Ensemble, in response to their commission for a new piece appropriate for Chanukah, with an emphasis on the theme of light. I chose a text of Rami Shapiro, from his poem “Chanukah” from Accidental Grace; Rami graciously allowed me to rework the text to create a poem for this musical setting. The word “light” is passed around the chorus at the beginning and end of the piece, building chords of shifting colors. The overall structure is A-B-A; with the outside sections in long-phrased melodies focusing on the return of light, and the middle section, more agitated, on the forces in life that “threaten to smother our light.”
And yet the light returns was commissioned for The Western Wind Vocal Ensemble by Francine M. Gordon, through the Zamir Choral Foundation’s Mandell Rosen Fund for New Music. It was given its premiere in New York City in December 2019.
Text, by Rami Shapiro and Gerald Cohen
And yet the light returns
From within or from without,
At the moment of greatest dark,
Time and events flow beyond our control,
sweeping us swiftly on a surging tide.
Our fears, our distress, threaten to smother our light,
leaving us alone with our demons and the dark.
From an inner vision or an oft-told tale,
from an act of will or the strong arm of a friend,
from a heartfelt cry or a lover’s kiss—light returns.
Premiere: December 2019, Western Wind Ensemble, New York, NY