based on the poetry of Kim Addonizio


solo soprano and wind ensemble (3(I,II=picc).1.eh.3.bcl.2–4sax(SATB)—4.3.2.btbn.1.euph—pno.hp—solosop—


17 minutes

Commissioned by/Premiere

Darkening, then Brightening was premièred on April 3, 2024 with Lindsey Kesselman, soprano, Kevin M. Geraldi, conductor

Commissioned by Columbus State University (GA), Schwob School of Music Wind Ensemble, Jamie L. Nix, conductor; Piedmont Wind Symphony, Mark A. Norman, Music Director/Conductor; The Eastman Wind Ensemble, Mark Davis Scatterday, conductor; State University of New York-Potsdam, Crane School of Music Wind Ensemble, Brian K. Doyle, conductor; University of California, Los Angeles Wind Ensemble, Travis J. Cross, conductor; University of Colorado Boulder Wind Symphony, Donald J. McKinney, conductor; University of Illinois Bands, Kevin M. Geraldi, director of bands; University of Miami Frost Wind Ensemble, Robert Carnochan, conductor; University of Michigan Symphony Band, Michael Haithcock, director of bands, consortium organizer; University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Bands, Emily Threinen, director of bands; University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory Wind Symphony, Steven D. Davis, conductor; University of North Carolina at Greensboro Bands, Jonathan Caldwell, director of bands; University of South Carolina Wind Ensemble, Cormac Cannon, conductor.


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This score is in exclusivity until May 2025.



Darkening, Then Brightening is my first composition for wind ensemble. When approached about the project, I knew I would be in unfamiliar territory, so I suggested that the work also feature a soprano soloist, a voice type for which I have written regularly. I also suggested the soloist be—in the case of the premiere—Lindsay Kesselman, a long-time collaborator and a dear friend.

It was Lindsay who inspired me to adapt the poems of Kim Addonizio, whose complex, emotionally layered poems of love, loss, and motherhood mirror Lindsay’s own life. Once I suggested the opening poem, “Here,” Lindsay was instrumental in choosing many of the other poems in the cycle. Her unique and indelible personality inspired me to reach outside of my familiar experience and try to empathize with an author’s life that has been quite different from my own.

Darkening, Then Brightening is structured as a five-part arch form where the first and fifth, and second and fourth, movements mirror one another, all surrounding a gentle “night music.” The godfather of this kind of structure is the great Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, though many composers have used it since.

Compositionally, the outer movements seek to invert the traditional hierarchy of the wind ensemble, where percussion often acts as a punctuation to wind and brass instruments. In these gentle, spacious movements, the winds serve as a kind of unearthly sustain on the struck metal instruments of glockenspiel, vibraphone, crotales, and other bells. 

The second and fourth movements reverse the inversion (if you’ll pardon the phrase). The outer movements are all decay, while the inner fast movements are all swell—starting from a single clarinet, each musical surge grows bigger and more intense until the entire ensemble is wailing at top volume—and the soprano sings a high D at the top of her range.

The innermost movement, the eponymous “Darkening, Then Brightening” creates imperfect intonation (out-of-tuneness) for an imperfect world. The solo flute, clarinet, and saxophones play gentle multiphonics (utilizing the “wrong” fingering to get two notes from an instrument that can normally only play one) that can never truly be in tune, against which the rest of the ensemble, along with the soprano, have to navigate. They have to try, much like the protagonist of the songs, to find beauty in a world that cannot be perfected.

Darkening, Then Brightening is dedicated to Lindsay Kesselman, with enormous thanks to Kevin Geraldi for his generous time and efforts to help shape and craft this work, and with further thanks to Michael Haithcock for organizing this commission.