for solo piano
for Jessica Nilles
Of shadows on the stars finds its name within the famed poem Sure On This Shining Night by James Agee. The poem receives a great deal of discussion on its meaning, contemplating if the words are hopeful, mourning, rife with humility, or a statement of resignation.
My take on the poem is that it is of deep hope and contemplation, declaring that the world is held in the warm embrace of summer and that life if being kind. Most strikingly, though, is the last line "of shadows on the stars," forming the crux of the text. It is the moment when the words change perspective from the stars casting shadows on the earth to the earth casting its shadows on the stars.
Regardless of what that may mean exactly, its elegance caught me, and its inherent imagery helped guide the formation of this piece. Unlike Lauridsen or Barber–neither of whom I am claiming to bear resemblance–this work actually has no text, and is driven more from the diction and isolated events present in the text rather than an interpretation of the poem as a whole.