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Steven Stucky has written an extensive variety of works, ranging from large-scale orchestral compositions to a cappella choral works, solo piano pieces, a work for 5 percussionists, and chamber music for numerous combinations of instruments. His Second Concerto for Orchestra won a Pulitzer Prize in 2005. He is also active as a conductor, a writer, a lecturer, and a teacher. From 1988 to 1992, Stucky was Composer-in-Residence and New Music Advisor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and he continues to serve as the orchestra's Consulting Composer for New Music. He has provided the following note:
"Nell'ombra, nella luce ("In Shadow, in Light") is based on simple oppositions between "bright" and "dark" musics - between music of high register, forceful gesture, clear harmony, optimistic tone on the one hand, and of low register, mysterious manner, and denser, less clear harmony on the other.
"These contrasts are exposed almost immediately: the opening idea, gioioso (joyous), alternates with another idea, soave (gentle), but very soon these musics of the light are suddenly replaced by a shadowy, furtive music marked oscuro (dark). Throughout the 17-minute course of the piece, all these ideas and others like them will return several times, continually transformed but always in the service of the fundamental opposition between light and dark. At the same time, the rough outlines of a familiar formal layout may be glimpsed, especially something like a slow movement, and something like a scherzo (with trio!).
"As often happens in my music, all the ideas are defined as much by factors like register, dynamic, instrumental texture, and expressive character, as by traditional thematic markers such as melody, rhythm, and motive. In this sense, like much of my work, Nell'ombra, nella luce is a composition of colors more than a composition of lines.
"The work was commissioned by the Institute of American Music at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester and composed between August 1999 and January 2000. The first performance was given by the Cuarteto Latinoamericano in Pittsburgh on February 12, 2000."