Shadow of Sirius, The
Subtitle: For Flute and Wind Ensemble
Movements (played without pause)
1. The Nomad Flute - 5:12
2. Eye of Shadow - 7:13
3. Into the Clouds - 8:09
Flute I-II-III-IV-V-VI (In the balcony or in the back of the hall)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV-V-VI
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Percussion (5 players, including:)
- Marimba (2, 5-octave)
- Tam-Tam (at least 36’ preferred)
- Tubular Bells (2 sets)
- Vibraphone (2)
None discovered thus far.
I have always found comfort in poetry. While in school, I was the guy with a collection of Bukowski under one arm and a collection of Yeats under the other. I have always enjoyed the rhythm of other people’s thoughts and feelings.
In the winter of 2009, my wife and I experienced a heartbreak that left me unsure of how to even breathe, let alone grieve.
On March 1st, 2009, I found a copy of W.S. Merwin’s The Shadow of Sirius, and I began to feel myself heal. I have almost no idea what most of this poetry means. But I know that it fills me with a profound sadness that is, at the same time, brimming with hope.
I recently heard Mr. Merwin discussing the origin of the title of his collection. He related that scientists have discovered that the star known as Sirius is actually a star system. What looks to our eye like a single object is actually many. Merwin found himself wondering what is on the other side of Sirus, lying in its shadow.
A friend once said to me, “Many concerti explore a virtuosity of technique but not many explore a virtuosity of expression.” It was with that thought in mind that I began work on my The Shadow of Sirius for solo flute and wind orchestra.
Each movement offers my reflection on a single Merwin poem from the collection. Although the work is played without pause, the soloist plays unaccompanied solos to separates the individual movements.
A consortium of American wind ensembles led by Michael Haithcock and the University of Michigan commissioned The Shadow of Sirius. The work is dedicated to the fantastic Amy Porter.
Movement III: Into the Clouds
What do you have with you
now my small traveler
suddenly on the way
and all at once so far
on legs that never were
up to the life that you
led them and breathing with
the shortness breath comes to
my endless company
when you could stay close to me
until the day was done
o closest to my breath
if you are able to
please wait a while longer
on that side of the cloud
Grateful acknowledgment is made to the Copper Press, which has granted permission to reprint W.S. Merwin’s poetry. All poems Copyright 2008 by W.S. Merwin. More information about this poetry can be found at www.coppercanyonpress.com.
- Program Note from composer
- Audio: Reference recording. Ensemble and conductor unknown
- Audio CD: Ohio University Wind Symphony (Andrew Trachsel, conductor; Alison Brown Sincoff, flute) - 29 January 2013
None discovered thus far.
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- Illinois State University (Normal) Wind Symphony (Anthony C. Marinello, conductor; Samantha Wyland, flute) - 23 April 2022
- Texas Christian University (Fort Worth) Wind Symphony (Donald Hale, conductor; Shauna Thompson, flute) - 29 April 2021
- Texas Tech University (Lubbock) Symphonic Band (Eric Allen, conductor; Lisa Garner Santa, flute) – 19 February 2020 (CBDNA 2020 Southwestern Division Conference, Norman, Okla.)
- Lamar University (Beaumont, Tx.) Wind Ensemble (Andrew McMahan, conductor; Brielle Frost, flute) – 26 November 2019
- Texas Tech University (Lubbock) Symphonic Band (Eric Allen, conductor; Lisa Garner Santa, flute) – 27 October 2019
- University of Iowa (Iowa City) Symphony Band (Mark Heidel, conductor; Nicole Esposito, flute) – 10 October 2019
- University of South Carolina (Columbia) Wind Ensemble (Scott Weiss, conductor; Jennifer Parker-Harley, flute) – 22 September 2019
- University of South Alabama (Mobile) Wind Ensemble (William Petersen, conductor; Andra Bohnet, flute) – 16 April 2019
- University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Symphony (Kevin Michael Holzman, conductor; Demarre McGill, flute) – 29 March 2019
- University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, Wash.) Wind Ensemble (Gerard Morris, conductor; Chloé Upshaw, flute) – 14 March 2019
- The Ohio State University (Columbus) Wind Symphony (Russell C. Mikkelson, conductor; Katherine Borst Jones, flute) – 5 March 2019
- University of South Florida (Tampa) Symphonic Band (John Carmichael, conductor; Francesca Arnone, flute) – 19 February 2019
- University of Massachusetts Amherst Wind Ensemble (Matthew Westgate, conductor; Cobus du Toit, flute) – 7 December 2018
- Pacific Lutheran University (Parkland, Wash.) Wind Ensemble (Edwin Powell, conductor; Jennifer Rhyne, flute) – 18 November 2018
- University of British Columbia (Vancouver) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Robert Taylor, conductor) – 17 November 2018
- Capitol Region Wind Ensemble (Schenectady, N.Y.) (Brett Wery, conductor; Jacqueline Wright, flute) - 20 May 2018
- University of Colorado Boulder Wind Symphony (Donald McKinney, conductor; Christina Jennings, flute) – 30 April 2018
- Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Wind Ensemble (Damon Talley, conductor; Katherine Kemmler, flute) – 26 April 2018
- Concordia College (Moorhead, Minn.) Band (Peter Haberman, conductor; Debora J. Harris, flute) – 19 November 2017
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Indiana, Penn.) Wind Ensemble (Timothy Paul, conductor; Therese Wacker, flute) – 4 March 2017
- University of Miami (Fla.) Frost Wind Ensemble (Gary Green, conductor; Trudi Cane, flute) – 25 March 2011 (CBDNA 2011 National Conference, Seattle, Wash.)
Works for Winds by This Composer
- Asimov's Aviary (2012)
- Avelynn's Lullaby (2011)
- Blink! (2006)
- Concerto for Viola and Wind Ensemble
- Emory's Barcarolle (2015)
- Fanfare for Chris (2019)
- Fanfares for Friends (2019)
- 15th Night of the Moon (2014)
- I wake in the dark and remember (2022)
- it perched for Vespers nine (2008)
- Knells for Bonnie (2016)
- My Eyes Are Full of Shadow (2016)
- Piece for Solo Flute and Chamber Winds (2015)
- Ping, Pang, Pong
- a proper goodbye (2020)
- The Shadow of Sirius (2009)
- Ship of Theseus (2015)
- Short Stories (2012)
- Southern Comforts (2008)
- that secret from the river (2016)
- Joel Puckett website.
- Puckett, J. (2009). The Shadow of Sirius: For Flute and Wind Ensemble [score]. Bill Holab Music: [Brooklyn].