Once believed to be dragons dancing across the sky, the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are a naturally occurring phenomenon of wavering lights in the Earth’s atmosphere. Taking place in the far reaches of the Northern hemisphere, these glistening lights are the subject of numerous myths and legends. Their impact on arctic cultures have been vast, inspiring countless pieces of music, art, and poetry throughout history. Among modern artists, one notable figure who is particularly taken by the aurorae is Latvian choral composer Ēriks Ešenvalds.
In 2011, Ešenvalds embarked on a four-year research expedition across the north to study the sights, sounds, and indigenous cultures within view of Aurora Borealis. As a byproduct of his research, he composed the unaccompanied choral piece, Rivers of Light. Utilizing folksongs from the Saami people and texts from Arctic explorers, Ešenvalds created a sonic analog for the otherwise silent wonder of the aurorae, and attempted to capture the oscillations, changes in color, and atmospheric qualities of the lights through sound. In this paper, I discuss the nature of Aurora Borealis, Ešenvalds’s expedition to the north, and how they both informed the composition of Rivers of Light.
|Commitee:||Lindau, Elizabeth A, Doyle, Alicia M|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|Department:||Bob Cole Conservatory of Music|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 81/4(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Choral, Ēriks, Ešenvalds, Rivers of Light|
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