Laurie Williams and the Youth Orchestras of Lubbock have commissioned me to write a piece for their performance finale at the 2019 League of American Orchestras Nation Conference. The theme of the music will focus on the West Texas culture today while still enveloping the listener in complex sounds and motifs sure to excite.
Edgar Allan Poe is in his apartment on a cold December evening, trying to read while Lenore is dying in his bed. She dies and then the haunting begins. He hears a quiet knock at his door, ignoring it the first time. He continues reading in the hopes of relieving his sorrow over Lenore, his beloved, who has passed away. Though he tries to convince himself that nothing is there, his curiosity and fear overwhelm him. He eventually opens his door, speaking “Lenore?” into the darkness. When he hears tapping at his window, he opens that, too, and a Raven (Lenore's alter ego) flies inside his room, landing on a bust of Pallas. Poe jokingly asks the Raven’s name, and is surprised to hear it respond “Nevermore.” He mutters to himself that the Raven will probably leave him just as his friends and loved ones did, to which the Raven responds once more “Nevermore.” Poe then seats himself directly in front of the bird, trying to understand what it means by “Nevermore.”
Suddenly, Poe perceives that angels sent by God have caused the air to become dense and perfumed. Anxious, he asks the Raven if the angels are a sign that heaven will relieve him of his sorrows, to which the bird says, again, “Nevermore.” With the same response, the bird rejects his hope that he might see Lenore again in heaven, as well as his impassioned request for the bird to leave him alone. Finally, Lenore tells us that the Raven has continued to sit atop his chamber door above the bust of Pallas, and that he will live forever in its shadow.
What actually happened to Poe to condemn him to the shadow?