Under City Lights, Forgotten Stars
Under City Lights, Forgotten Stars is an orchestral work about our rapidly disappearing view of the stars in urban areas due to light pollution. It was commissioned and premiered by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on January 17, 2023 at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
"For nearly all of human history, the sight of a star-filled night sky has been a unifying human experience — inspiring scientific advances, philosophy, art, and more. But today, our naturally starry skies are becoming rapidly unknown to recent generations. Our night skies have become so polluted with artificial light that in most cities – where over a half of the world’s population resides, including over 75% of Canadians — only a smattering of stars are ever visible to the unaided eye. Our view is getting drowned in light and it’s only getting worse, with recent estimates finding we’re now seeing nearly 10% fewer stars each year. But as our view of the cosmos disappears, what are we and future generations losing along with our connection to the stars?
In Under City Lights, Forgotten Stars, I’ve imagined a story of rediscovery where, for a time, we dim city lights and uncover the naturally starry skies hidden beneath. The music and story exist in three sections. In the first, you’ll hear bright and incessantly moving lines in the xylophone, marimba, and echoed in other instruments, painting an illuminated city nightscape. In the second section, the city lights fade away to reveal a truly dark sky, depicted in a wandering low-string feature. Finally, our brilliantly starry skies are gradually revealed in all their magnificence, shimmering and swirling above. The piece concludes with a fiery, bright brass feature depicting the awe-inspiring view of the Milky Way.
To learn more about light pollution visit www.darksky.org." — K. G.