Earth Shadow, strings / 12 minutes

An “earth shadow” is an optical phenomenon occurring twice every day (just before sunset and just after sunrise) in which the earth casts a shadow of itself onto the upper atmosphere near the horizon. It is sometimes called the “dark segment,” appearing as a band of deep indigo or black directly above the horizon. Just above the earth shadow is the “Belt of Venus,” a pink band of light (also called an “anti-twilight arch”) caused by the remnant of light reaching atmospheric particles opposite the sun. As day progresses into night, the earth shadow rises until it envelopes the observer at the moment of sunset. At sunrise, the earth shadow descends the horizon, disappearing at the moment of sunrise. In Earth Shadow, the orchestra performs sonic representations of these bands of light and dark: shadowy darkness in the low strings and timpani, a warm pinkish-gold Belt of Venus in the brasses and low woodwinds, and the clear, empty, infinite night sky full of stars in the high woodwinds and metallic percussion.

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Recording: MSU Concert Orchestra; Gretchen Renshaw, conductor. Wharton Center for the Performing Arts, East Lansing. April 23, 2015.

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