Thy Lucifer


Thy Lucifer


two countertenors and piano

  • Premiere: 29 September 2006 / The Phoenix Concerts / Church of Saint Matthew and Saint Timothy, New York, NY / Daniel Gundlach, Mark Crayton, countertenors; James Janssen, piano
  • Instrumentation: two countertenors and piano
  • Duration: 11'
  • Text: Ancient Passion Play, adapted by the composer

Program Note

In medieval York, the great feast of Corpus Christi was a day of note: bells rang out over the city; high mass was attended by all; and citizens gathered - from dawn until dusk - for the presentation of the Mystery Plays. A cycle of forty-eight one-acts, each drama was assigned to the artisans' guild best be suited to its telling, and members of the various guild halls would compete to produce the most elaborate stage designs.

When Daniel Gundlach invited me to adapt one of these Mystery Plays for two countertenors, it occurred to me that this unique instrumentation might be well-suited to the re-telling of the York Tanner's Play "The Creation and Fall of Lucifer," as I imagine the voice of deception to sound as sweet as the voice of God. 

"The Creation and Fall of Lucifer" has frequently been told - as it was by the York Tanners - in straightforward terms of good and bad. However, before Lucifer became known as the embodiment of evil, he was once stunning in his purity: made most near after God, and named "bearer of light." In re-telling the tale, I was concerned with catching the characters in the moments before they were divided: Here, there would be a place to imagine how close they might have been; how Lucifer might once have embodied beauty; how, with his fall, God might have experienced deep loss. 

Commissioned by Daniel Gundlach and Mark Crayton, Thy Lucifer, was completed on 22 July 2006 while in residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and first performed on 29 September 2006 on The Phoenix Concerts series of St. Matthew & St. Timothy in New York City.