Rings of light
Rings of light was written for the Ligeti Quartet to be workshopped and performed on 16 July 2017 as part of the Cheltenham Composers’ Academy.
The title comes from 'The World' by Henry Vaughan: "I saw Eternity the other night, Like a great ring of pure and endless light, All calm, as it was bright."
Taken literally, the closest thing that can be considered a ‘ring of light’ is that of photons (particles of light) which form spherical orbits around black holes generating what is called a ‘photon sphere’. As photons approach the event horizon of a black hole, those with the appropriate energy avoid being pulled into the black hole by traveling in a nearly tangential direction known as an exit cone. This creates transiently stable orbits for particles of light, which travel with or against the rotation of the black hole. I had a very strong desire to turn these orbits into a piece of music and decided to create a graphical score made up of several different ‘ARCS’ to represent the many possible orbital routes a photon could take around a black hole. The result was Rings of light.
Ligeti Quartet, Chapel Arts, Cheltenham, 16 July 2017