Commissioned by The Berlin Philharmonic and The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Aurora, for solo piano and chamber orchestra, was premiered by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim pianist and conductor, on June, 10, 2000. The 15-minute work is dedicated with admiration and gratitude to Daniel Barenboim. The commission was made possible through the generosity of Cindy Sargent and Sally Hands as well as with support from The Louise Durham Mead New Music Fund. The composer expresses heartfelt appreciation to the commissioning parties. The work was also presented at the Proms in London in 2001. The subtitle is "...may our souls know no twilight..."
The five continuous sections set delicate, prayerful, and luminous sounds alongside episodes of spiky rhythmic energy in slow-fast alternation. Until the very final minute of the music, it moves towards a reconciliation of the two states. This music grows out of Mahler's universe. Webern's, Debussy's and Bartok's aesthetics inform this work as much as does a wide variety of jazz. The tightly-argued journey is colorful, bold, delicate, fragile, and passionate and the transformative nature of the musical elements imbues the piece with a sense of motion.
Augusta Read Thomas