Listen: Daylight Divine

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From the archival recording of the world premiere, performed by the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and L’Ensemble orchestral de Paris under the direction of John Nelson.

Daylight Divine audio courtesy of L'Ensemble orchestral de Paris and the Indianapolis Children's Choir.

For information on performing this work or obtaining a perusal score, please contact SDG.



"Thomas' music, particularly her orchestral music, fairly explodes with an extroverted boldness of utterance audiences and musicians alike find challenging yet immediate. It's music that doesn't sound like anybody else's—music that insists you pay attention."—John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

Augusta Read Thomas is a brilliant, young composer with more than 300 original compositions to her credit. She writes in a colorful, bold, concise, intense, yet elegant musical style. Her works have been widely heard and well received, and they have won many awards, including a Grammy award for Chanticleer's Colors of Love, a recording of new choral music from today's most gifted composers. Among her many achievements are the positions of Composer in Residence for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Professor Professor of Music Composition at Northwestern University, and Professor of Composition at the Eastman School of Music

When she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in May 2009, the citation read:

"Augusta Read Thomas's impressive body of works embodies unbridled passion and fierce poetry. Championed by such luminaries as Barenbo im, Rostropovich, Boulez, and Knussen, she rose early to the top of her profession. Later, as an influential teacher at Eastman, Northwestern and Tanglewood, chairperson of the American Music Center, and the Chicago Symphony's longest-serving resident composer, she has become one of the most recognizable and widely loved figures in American Music."

Augusta Read Thomas's publisher is G. Schirmer.

For a complete biography, visit Augusta Read Thomas’s website.

Daylight Divine

Augusta Read Thomas
Daylight Divine

Children’s chorus, soprano soloist & chamber orchestra
DURATION: 20 minutes
TEXT: “The Windhover” and “Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Two movement work thats reflect both the playfulness and maturity of Hopkins' poetry ("Glory be to God for dappled things").




World Premiere
June 2001
L’Ensemble orchestral de Paris
Indianapolis Children’s Choir
Christine Brandes, soprano
John Nelson, conductor
St. Denis Festival
Basilica of St. Denis
Paris, France

U.S. Premiere
April 2002
Princeton Symphony Orchestra
The American Boychoir
Sarah Pelletier, soprano
Mark Laycock, conductor
Richardson Auditorium
Princeton, New Jersey

When Soli Deo Gloria commissioned a new work from Augusta Read Thomas, who was the Composer-in-Residence for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the time, Ms. Thomas chose to write a piece based on two poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins, whose unique way with language and rhythmic imagination as a poet were a powerful attraction for her.

“Knowing that the work would premiere in the Basilica of St. Denis, it seemed fitting in many ways to use Hopkins' ‘The Windover’ and ‘Pied Beauty’ as the text. Gerard Manley Hopkins was a Jesuit priest, and his poems approach the world with a deep devotion to God.Gerard Manley Hopkins' poems illustrate an extraordinary sensitivity to gracefulness and beauty in nature and in mankind ... his sense of rhythm and rhyme (he invented the term ‘sprung rhythm’) is magical and musical. The musicality, honesty, passion, and penetration of the poems of Hopkins attract me, as a reader and as a composer, time and time again.

These Hopkins texts are at times intensely mature ("my heart in hiding stirred for a bird, / the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!"), while at other times they are playful ("For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow"). For this reason, I ‘heard’ both a solo soprano and a children's chorus; having a mature voice along with young voices seemed to capture the essence of the poems, their tone and their spirituality.”—Augusta Read Thomas, program notes

  Daylight Divine world premiere at the St. Denis Basilica 

There is a two-minute orchestral interlude between the two movements, and throughout the score the children's chorus is divided into several subdivisions (2, 4, 6, 8, etc.), allowing for rich harmonies, counterpoint, and antiphonal sections.











Indianapolis Children's Choir rehearsing Daylight Divine  

Daylight Divine received its world premiere performance at the St. Denis Basilica in France as part of the St. Denis Festival, June of 2001, under the direction of SDG’s Artistic Director, John Nelson, with the Indianapolis Children’s Choir; Christine Brandes, soprano; and L’Ensemble orchestral de Paris.





The American premiere took place a few months later (April 2002), during the final season of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s three-year Sacred Music Series, with The American Boy Choir; Sarah Pelletier, soprano; and Princeton Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Mark Laycock.

Daylight Divine received its third performance in New Haven, Connecticut, in 2010, with the Fairfield Children's Choir; Hana Park, soprano; and the New Haven Symphony, conducted by William Broughton. The fourth performance, also conducted by William Broughton, followed in February 2011 in Jyväskylä, Finland, with the Vox Aurea children's choir; Anna-Kristiina Kaappola, soprano; and Sinfonia Finlandia.