World Trade Center Memorial Event

Poetry of Lighting Final Project (November 2001)


Event: Premiere performance of a new piece composed by David R. Gillingham
Venue: Performing arts center mainstage (Audience capacity: approximately 1,000)

The program features a newly commissioned piece memorializing the events of September 11 by David R. Gillingham (composer of Heroes Lost and Fallen and Light Unto the Darkness, tributes to those lost in Vietnam and the Oklahoma City Bombing). The stage is bare except for an acoustic orchestra shell surrounding the musicians. This orchestra shell is made of some material that allows light through from behind, yet retains the acoustical qualities of a standard large orchestra shell.

Lighting can add to an orchestral performance in a powerful way, especially with a narrative piece such as the one featured at this concert. The lighting is an integral part of the performance. The audience should be able to forget that the musicians are there, "see" the music in the lighting, and, to a lesser extent, "hear" the lighting in the music. Walt Disney's Fantasia, especially the non-animated parts, is an excellent example of this. The light helps reveal the narrative of the musical piece.

Each lighting moment is based on a photograph of the attack or its aftermath that fits what is happening in the music. The shell, on stage for acoustical reasons, becomes a fantastic backdrop, lit from both behind and in front. At some points in the performance, the musicians are lit as one would expect at an orchestral performance, but in other moments, they are silhouetted against the background of the orchestra shell, depending on what best fits the musical narrative at any given time.

(The photograph that each lighting moment is based on is displayed next to the rendering. All photographs displayed here are taken from

Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version of each picture.


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Last Updated 7-31-2003