First Light is a one-movement concerto in four sections. The work's title was inspired by the last section of Robert Duncan's four-part poem, Four Pictures of the Real Universe:
And does not the spirit attend secretly
the music that is hidden away from me
chords that hold the stars in their courses
outfoldings of sound from the seed of first light?
Were it not for the orders of music hidden
we should be claimed by the preponderent void.
In the coda of the piece, a slow sustained Adagio, two Alleluias from the Roman Catholic liturgy are paraphrased. These chants are not extraneous quotes but serve both as a source for much of the material found throughout the one-movement work and as an ultimate destination of the music's journey.
— Richard Danielpour