An homage to the 168 victims of the Oklahoma City bombing disaster on April 19, 1995, A Light Unto the Darkness is a very emotional work. Beginning unsuspectingly, the listener hears the noises of traffic, country-western and jazz music and the mechanics of oil wells. The center section deals with the disaster in loud explosions and unyielding dissonance. A mournful English Horn solo and flugelhorn call are followed by a reassuring closing that reflects Gillingham's sentiment in the piece: "we must all seek to be a "light unto the darkness" – to find good amidst the evil."
Genre: Band | # of Players: Standard
Level: 5 | Duration: 12:00
Bb Clarinet 1
Bb Clarinet 2
Bb Clarinet 3
Eb Contralto Clarinet (optional)
Alto Saxophone 1/2
Bb Trumpet 1/Flugelhorn (or muted trumpet)
Bb Trumpet 2
Bb Trumpet 3
Euphonium (bass and treble clef)
String Bass (optional)
Timpani (4 drums)
Percussion 1 (drum set, bells, triangle, chimes, snare drum)
Percussion 2 (xylophone, 4.3-octave marimba, large tam-tam)
Percussion 3 (vibraphone, brake drums, tam-tam)
Percussion 4 (suspended cymbal, bass drums)
A Light Unto the Darkness was written for the Mt. Pleasant High School Symphonic Wind Ensemble conducted by Roger A. Sampson, and dedicated to my daughter, Amy. The work is an homage to the 168 victims of the Oklahoma City bombing disaster on April 19, 1995.
The work is in three main sections, each alluding to a different idea, setting or emotion associated with the disaster. The first section deals with the everyday routine of Oklahoma City which is completely unsuspecting of the terrible fate which is knocking at the door. This fate interrupts the music several times during this section. The cosmopolitan nature of Oklahoma City is suggested through the music with references to the hustle and bustle of traffic, country western music, jazz music and the mechanistic drone of oil wells in the surrounding countryside. The ensuing section depicts the disaster itself with loud explosive articulations in the percussion, sinister motives, driving rhythms and unyielding dissonance. The final section begins with a lament by the English horn and a mournful call by the flugelhorn followed by a warm, reassuring melody which culminates the movement. This final theme is significant in that it is the key to understanding this work. We must all seek to be a "light unto the darkness" — to find good amidst the evil. The "light" is within the final melody of this work and seeks to call our attention to 168 special, individual, and beautiful souls who are now at peace. They are our "lights unto the darkness."