Nickitas Demos

Music For A Starless Night



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Music For A Starless Night (1999)

Nickitas Demos

I. [the sky is a desert] - score preview

II. [this veil of emptiness] score preview

III. [remembering another such sky] score preview

IV. [in moonless shadows] score preview

V. [one risen sun] score preview

Duration: 19'

This work explores the state of spiritual coolness. According to Saints of the Orthodox Church, this state can be the result of slothfulness on the part of the Christian. When prayer and active participation in the sacramental life of the Faith are abandoned, spiritual coolness is a natural consequence. The Church Fathers also note that such a state may also come upon an actively struggling Christian for instructional purposes. In either instance, the Christian is called to continue his or her efforts. When such efforts are maintained, even during “cool” times, the Christian is often rewarded with spiritual warmth. This progression, (spiritual coolness – struggle – spiritual warmth) forms the broad program upon which this piece is built. The work also takes specific ideas from a poem I wrote in response to these ideas:

                  In the cool of the night, I lift up my eyes…

                  The sky is a desert


                  All life is still under this veil of emptiness…

                  Disconnected from Infinity

                        [ Creation remembering another such sky

                          When a last breath was taken at Golgotha ]


                        Yet, in moonless shadows, I am comforted…

                  Knowing one true thing:


                  Even separation from a thousand trillion points of light

                  Cannot withstand One Risen Sun


Each movement of this work has been given a title that is fragment from each respective stanza of the poem. Most of the music in the work is of an abstract nature. However, in order to emphasize victory through spiritual struggle, the fifth movement is built around a chant melody taken from the Orthodox Church. The melody is obscured at first but gradually gains prominence throughout the movement. The work concludes with a stark and literal presentation of the melody. The hymn, “Who is so great a God as our God?” is a chant that appears in the Vespers of Agape chanted on Holy Pascha (Easter). The text of this hymn is as follows:  Who is so great a God as our God? / Thou art the God, Who alone doest wonders