Piece of the Week: Lux Aurumque by Eric Whitacre

Lux Aurumque

Eric Whitacre is best known for his groundbreaking “virtual choir” projects, which have brought together thousands of singers from countries across the globe using social media and online video sharing to perform music that explores themes of connectivity and transcendence. Whitacre’s 2000 composition Lux Aurumque was the piece that he chose for his very first virtual choir project, and it quickly garnered over a million views on YouTube after the finished project was uploaded in 2010 (as of this posting, the piece has been viewed over 4 million times). This arrangement of Lux Aurumque for concert band expands the piece harmonically, making use of the full resources of the concert band to create Whitacre’s lush signature sound, and incorporates a melody from another well known Whitacre piece, the opera Paradise Lost.

We are very pleased to be partnering with Whitacre to release this piece on the SmartMusic platform, both because it is gorgeous music that uses the full harmonic range of your ensemble and engages audiences with a modern yet approachable harmonic language, and also because Whitacre’s mission of using cutting-edge technology to connect people through music perfectly fits the SmartMusic philosophy.

Audio Sample:

Audio provided by GIA Publications, Inc. “Teaching Through Music Performance in Band,” Vol. 6, Grade 3, Disk 3.

Composition Notes, by Eric Whitacre:

Lux Aurumque began its life as an a cappella choral work that I wrote in the fall of 2000. When the Texas Music Educators Association and a consortium of bands commissioned me to adapt it for symphonic winds, I rewrote the climax and included the grand “Bliss” theme from my opera Paradise Lost.

This arrangement of Lux Aurumque for concert band received its premiere at the 2005 conference of the Texas Music Educator’s Associatoin, and is dedicated with deep admiration for my dear friend Gary Green.

Composer Biography:

An accomplished composer, conductor and lecturer, Eric Whitacre is one of the brightest stars in contemporary concert music. Regularly commissioned and published, Whitacre has received composition awards from ASCAP, the Barlow International Composition Competition, the American Choral Directors Association, and the American Composers Forum. In 2001 he became the youngest recipient ever awarded the coveted Raymond C. Brock commission by the American Choral Directors Association, and his album Light & Gold won a Grammy in 2012. Commercially, Whitacre has worked with such luminaries as Barbara Streisand and Marvin Hamlisch.

Born in 1970, Whitacre has already achieved substantial critical and popular acclaim. The American Record Guide named his first recording, The Music of Eric Whitacre, one of the top ten classical albums in 1997, and the Los Angeles Times praised his music as “electric, chilling harmonies; works of unearthly beauty and imagination.” His Water Night has become one of the most popular choral works of the last decade, and is one of the top selling choral publications in the last five years. Ghost Train, his first instrumental work, written at the age of 23, is a genuine phenomenon; it has received thousands of performances in over 50 countries and has been featured on 40 different recordings. His music has been the subject of several recent scholarly works and doctoral dissertations, and his published works have sold well over 350,000 copies worldwide.

As a conductor, Mr. Whitacre has appeared with hundreds of professional and educational ensembles throughout the world. In the last five years he has conducted concerts of his choral and symphonic music in Japan, Australia, Singapore, much of Europe, and dozens of American universities and colleges. Eric received his M.M. in composition from the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied composition with Pulitzer Prize winner John Corigliano.

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If you are an educator, musician, composer or student with a suggestion for a “piece of the week” blog post, you can email your suggestion to Griffin at [email protected] Please let me know the name of the piece, composer, publisher, and why this piece is special to you.

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