O constellations of the early night, that sparkled brighter as the twilight died, and made the darkness glorious! I have seen your rays grow dim upon the horizon’s edge, and sink behind the mountains. I have seen the great Orion, with his jeweled belt, that large-limbed warrior of the skies, go down into the gloom.
–From William Cullen Bryant’s “The Constellations”
Orion (2013) is a tribute to the famous constellation of the same name. The constellation receives its name from Greek mythology: Orion the hunter, one of the oldest surviving figures in Greek folklore. The hunter inspired fear and veneration, and yet the legends surrounding him also provide a shroud of awe and mystery—the same sort of awe and mystery one encounters while gazing into the night sky.
The piece is organized into three parts: the beginning of the work portrays a stargazer (the flutist), looking into the night sky at the constellation of Orion. Antiphonal percussion brings to light the vastness of space. Soon to follow is a more rhythmic section—“The Hunt,” as the stargazer envisions the legendary Orion in his element. Eventually, called back to Earth by the rush of an offstage gong, the stargazer returns to his vigilance of the night sky, drifting off to sleep under the stars.