On November 13, 1833, the most powerful meteor shower on record occurred over North America. A stream of particles from the comet Tempel-Tuttle came into direct line with Earth's orbit, producing a spectacular meteor display filling the sky with thousands of shooting stars at a time. Observers were stricken with awe and fear in an era when little was understood about astronomical phenomena.
This programmatic work depicts the Leonids meteor shower in three sections. First, the night sky before the shower: slow, contemplative, and mysterious. Rippling percussion motives imply myriad stars. A series of trills announces the first meteors, eventually breaking into a flurry of woodwind ostinato—the original theme superimposed. The piece ends reflectively—in the aftermath of the storm—reflective of the past events, finally returning to the opening "starry sky" percussion gesture.
Leonids, 1833 was the winner of the 2007 Central Michigan University Orchestral Composition Competition.