Solstice Shadows


For more information, and for scores and parts, please visit the Canadian Music Centre.

Title: Solstice Shadows
Year Completed: 2014
Duration: 6 mins
Instrumentation: Piano and mixed chorus (SATB)
Credits: Commissioned by the Whitehorse Community Choir, Barbara Chamberlin, Director.
Text taken from the poem “Andante Grazioso” by Yukon poet Clea Roberts 
Premiere: Whitehorse, Whitehorse Community Choir, May 30, 2015

Program Notes:

Solstice Shadows evokes the quality of light around the winter solstice in Canada’s sub-Arctic. The sun is still visible during the day for brief periods, but rises late and sets early. It only rises a short distance above the horizon, casting long shadows and beautiful colours that subtly transform the snowscape. Sonically, this is a time when the smallest of sounds gain a voice in the soundscape. An ice crack amplified by the brittle cold air… a small animal’s movement focused by the snow… I have attempted to capture these effects by heightening the sounds of the consonants and textures of the words themselves.


from the poem “Andante Grazioso” by Yukon poet Clea Roberts (stanzas 1-3): 

Just as the flooded ditches 
are sealed with ice,
there is music or there
is snow.
The morning light
comes later and later.
Once I would have felt
this as heaviness,
but the edges of darkness
are so soft and full of threads,
the light is teased out
and ready.
I’ve decided to speak—
I’ve released
certainty, sent the pain
of grief and love
like a deer into night.