Christopher Walczak: Into the Changing Light (commissioned work, world premiere) Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra / Chih-Sheng Chen / National Recital Hall, Taipei, Taiwan 2016.6.26.
Into the Changing Light is a single movement piece for sheng, guzheng, cello, and percussion. It was a thrill to have the opportunity to compose for traditional Chinese instruments and a joy to explore the sonic possibilities of the ensemble sounding together. Although I greatly appreciate traditional Chinese, Taiwanese, and western classical music, my goal was to compose a piece of ‘pure music’ that transcends those styles, frees the listener from expectations, and creates a distinct musical world governed by its own principles.
The piece is meant to convey the primal allure and attraction we (beings) have to light, which can be interpreted as radiant, warm, and spiritually enlightening, but also blinding or even terrifying. Many people who have near-death experiences report such an otherworldly light. The narrative of the piece is a struggle to decide whether or not to embrace an incredibly alluring, powerful, but enigmatic energy. The work begins with dawn. Over a hazy span of time, an emerging ray of light transforms into a beckoning doorway. The light is not only changing – it is an agent of change and metamorphosis.
There are many motives present in the piece which themselves are transformed, reflecting the curiosities, concerns, and decisions that craft the narrative. A slowly winding contrapuntal texture gives way to dramatic dynamic gestures. The piece is balanced by the culmination: an eruption of fast and relentless sixteenth note rhythms as the narrator steps into the torrent of light.