Hung Aloft the Night was commissioned by a consortium of several schools organized by Dr. Joshua Kearney. The piece’s title and inspiration comes from the poem ‘Bright Star’ by the English poet, John Keats.
The poem expresses the desire for something unattainable and the longing for stability amidst a world in constant flux. The poet uses grandiose imagery of mountains, shores and skies and sensual language to convey this desire to the reader.
The piece uses a single theme (with smaller variants and fragments) to portray musically that which is steadfast amongst a world constantly changing. The melody - “Idée fixe” - is heard first with almost no accompaniment and evolves through several reharmonizations, key changes, and contrapuntal contextualization. The music begins and ends contemplatively as if appearing in the night sky among millions of celestial bodies which serve as a canvas for one's own introspection.
Available at FJH Music Company
By John Keats
Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.