A Light in the Ocean

Chris Pilsner

“A Light in the Ocean” is a pure reflection of the wonders of life across our planet. As I composed the music, I consistently envisioned the beauty and spectacle of stepping into nature and seeing the flourish of life around me.  And, this is no more exemplified than in the underwater expanse of the ocean.

From the outset, I knew it was essential to give this seascape a melody that matched its innocence and wonder. This was very important to me because I feel like melody has become a lost art in much of the classical music being composed today.  But there is a reason that so much music in our history is great, and that is largely due to a melody that connects it together. My melody, while intentionally simple in nature, slowly develops and changes over the course of the piece to help exemplify the ever-changing life cycle of the world.

Beyond melody, A Light in the Ocean also relies heavily upon the Dorian mode.  This means that instead on emphasizing the traditional first note of a major scale, my music finds its foundation on the second note.  In result, the Dorian mode has a minor quality but with an added brightness and “light” to its raised 6th note. Furthermore, I tried to create a sense of gentle movement in the orchestra to give each moment a water-like quality.

Being a native-born citizen of Fort Collins, it was an honor to compose this piece for Wes Kenney and the Fort Collins Symphony and share it with my hometown community. I cannot express how much appreciation I have for the incredible music teachers I had the privilege of being mentored by and can honestly say that my career would not have been possible without them.

Commissioned by the Fort Collins Symphony.  Wes Kenney, Music Director
Performed in memory of Melanie Valente


Program notes by Chris Pilsner

Performed by the Fort Collins Symphony on October 5, 2019 alongside Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kijé Suite and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.

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