Threshold of Night (setting one of Kathleen Raine’s Three Poems of Incarnation) was commissioned by St John’s College, Cambridge and was premièred under the direction of David Hill in the College chapel on 25th November 2006.
Written for Advent, the work aims to highlight the yearning that all societies have, in their time of need, for guidance from beyond their community. By coincidence, however, this composition was completed on the eve of 29th August 2006, one year after Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest in the history of the United States, made landfall in Louisiana. Looking at Raine’s words in this context (‘Go back, my child, to the rain and storm’, ‘I will not go back for sorrow or pain’), the poem can be seen to echo the conflicted and anguished thoughts of displaced New Orleanians. The original Advent sense of desired guidance takes on a specific, if unintentional, significance with regards to the tragic outcome of that hurricane; this is emphasized by the blues inflected harmonies found throughout Threshold of Night.
New York, August 2006