A Light exists in Spring (2004)

SSAATTBB mixed choir

6 min.

This piece takes its text from a poem of the same name by 19th century American poet, Emily Dickinson. It draws upon the ideas of prismic light and colour– light waves, as well as the idea of sound waves, in the form of bell-sounds created by the human voice.

“At a suitable distance, church bells could be powerfully evocative, for the strident noises of their clappers are lost and they are given a legato phrasing which wind currents or water will modulate dynamically… Perhaps no sound benefits more from distance and atmosphere.” -Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer, from his book,¬†The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World (1977).


“A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period–
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the formula of sound
It passes and we stay–“

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)


Premiered by Phoenix Chamber Choir (directed by Ramona Luengen), at Queens Avenue United Church, New Westminster, B.C., Canada, on April 16, 2005.


Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre.