ORCHESTRAL » Light Eternal

Instrumentation: *2 2 2 2/ 4 2 2 1/ tmp + 2 perc/ pno/ strings
Duration: 14’

Programme Notes

The popular Dylan Thomas quote “Do not go gentle into that good night” was never far away from the composer’s mind while composing Light Eternal. In many ways, the piece tries to invoke the sentiment of that famous poem, although it does not necessarily “rage against the light.” Composed in 2004-05 on commission from CBC Radio, Light Eternal is intended as a memorial for conductor Wallace Leung who passed away suddenly in 2002.

The composition is marked by a number of solos for various members of the orchestra, the longest solo occurring at the beginning for the cello. Other solos ensue for members of the woodwinds and brass. A short, quiet chorale punctuates the conclusion of the solo sections and musical attempts to draw the restless soloists to a more peaceful state, harmonically speaking. But the soloists resist being drawn into these lulling tonalities by choosing to sit outside the pitches of the chorale’s tonality.

Interspersed within these solos are passages featuring the strings. A sense of timelessness is suggested by repeated harmonic patterns. These patterns occur twice with the first pattern growing to a brilliant cadence, only to have it suddenly fade away, paled with sadness and a sense of unfulfillment. The second phrase, occurring at the conclusion of the piece, ends with a much more reassuring cadence. The solo cello returns and finally reaches a moment of relative peace and quietly acquiesces to the gentle lure of the chorale at the end of the piece.

February 2005

Audio Samples

Light Eternal  


February 6, 2005

Conductor: Mario Bernardi
Chan Centre
Vancouver, British Columbia

June 6,7, 2008

Conductor: Bill Eddins
April 1, 2007

Conductor: Bradley Thachuk
March 2,3 2007

Conductor: Simon Streatfield


"… of the several contemporary Canadian composers now attempting to re-engage with the broad traditional audience for classical music, John Estacio has emerged as a front-runner… there is no questioning his precise and utterly assured instinct for orchestra writing… [Light Eternal] is no conventional elegy… instead, Light Eternal is rich and ceremonial, willing embracing a sort of glossy theatricality which was appropriate, moving, even cathartic."
–David Gordon Duke, Vancouver Sun, February 8, 2005

Score/Parts Rental

For more information on score and parts rental for Light Eternal, contact John Estacio. or the Canadian Music Centre.