Bright Auroral Skies
Bright Auroral Skies, op. 115
Kent School Music Department, Kent, Connecticut
Charles B. Emerich, Chairman
grade 4 - 6:55
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The Kent School in Connecticut, founded in 1906 asked that this commission include their school song with lyrics written by well-known poet, Robert Hillyer and music by composer R. Lee Gilliam, both of whom were graduates of Kent School. Although the song does not appear to have a specific title other than "Kent School Song," the final lyrics are "Bright Auroral Skies" which provided the title for the piece. Also requested were the inclusion of the hymns "Jerusalem," a staple of British culture for over a century, which uses the words from an early 17th century poem by William Blake, set to music by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916, and "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty," most likely based on a German folk tune when used by Joachim Neander in his hymn "Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren," published in 1680.
The opening depicts morning as the sun rises over the beautiful and serene Housatonic River. The school song, "Bright Auroral Skies" is then heard, first as a quiet hymn, then building in grandeur until evolving into a rhythmic iteration in the relative minor key. This leads to the hymn, "Jerusalem" presented as stately and reverent. A fast-paced percussion interlude and development bring us to the final hymn, "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" including fanfares and flourishes, culminating in a rousing conclusion.
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