Programme Notes

Jonathan Cohen - Aurora: Bringer of Dawn

Aurora is the Latin word for dawn and the name of the Roman goddess who brings sunrise, known also by her Greek name Eos. Each day she opens the gates of dawn and flies through the air behind her two horses, ending the nightly reign of her sister, the moon, and heralding the day’s reign of her brother, the sun. She is also the mother of the four winds, and, as it happens, of many others. Through Aurora Borealis (dawn wind), her name is also associated with the skies of the northern hemisphere and of Canada in particular.

This piece offers three vignettes of Aurora’s life.

1 Frolicking
This movement imagines Aurora’s cavorting with abandon. We picture gamboling and exaltation with a freedom that can only come from being a goddess.

2 Aurora and Tithonus
It is said that Aurora had taken one of Venus’s lovers and, in retaliation, Venus cursed Aurora with an insatiable appetite for mortal men; indeed, she was known to abduct them. But Aurora fell deeply in love with the prince of Troy, Tithonus. Since Tithonus was mortal, Aurora asked Jupiter to grant Tithonus immortality. This he did, but she forgot to ask for eternal youth as well. They were initially happy, but then Aurora had to endure her dear Tithonus aging, unable to die.

3 Dawn
We hear the tranquil, waiting world just before daybreak. With majesty, Aurora ascends, bringing a rosy glow to the horizon. Joy ensues as she shoots saffron arcs across the heavens and ground. Finally, as the transformation completes, we settle into the pleasant promise of a new day.

Commissioned by Les Flûtistes de Montréal for the 2022 NFA Convention
Scored for 2 flutes, 2 altos, 1 bass, 1 contra.
Performance time: 6:30

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