A certain slant of light (2020)

for solo cello

Duration: ca. 9'45"


Commissioned by the Florida State Music Teachers Association

  • Performance Video Premiere
    October 25, 2020
    Emily Austin Smith, cello
    Florida State Music Teachers Association Annual Conference

A certain slant of light was commissioned by the Florida State Music Teachers Association, and was written for my wife, cellist Emily Austin Smith, to perform. While she has played many of my pieces and given me feedback during the composition process of many more, this was the first piece I wrote expressly for her to perform, and the process of its composition was collaborative. I’d bring her ideas or short sections of music to try out, and then she’d give me feedback, like “that bowing doesn’t work”, or “does it have to be that fast?” or “how about an octave down?” and every once in a while, “somehow, all of that seems to work!” The result is a piece that is both true to my original conception and is difficult, but ultimately practical to perform. I actually derived the initial material for the piece from the letters of Emily’s name. Fittingly, the title comes from the poetry of another Emily, Emily Dickinson, and calls to mind visual imagery that the music evokes: glinting light off of the surface of the ocean or fireflies flitting about in the darkness.