The melodic material for Only Light originally came from Beneath a Canvas of Green, a large-scale work of mine written for wind ensemble. At the time, I was not quite comfortable with how this music fit within the larger work—it passed by much too quickly—and I knew it was something I would eventually like to revisit.
In the fall of 2012, one of my best friend’s mother lost her battle with cancer. A year later, while thinking of ideas for what was eventually to become Only Light, I found myself thinking of him and his family quite often. At about this same time, I was on social media late one night—procrastinating rather than composing—and discovered a post written by another friend. The excerpt is in reference to his wife. He wrote:
A timeline. Oh, the dark places I’ve dwelt this morning. The “hows,” “what ifs,” and “whys” pouring over me. But, I digress. There is no timeline at this time. There is only, “we aren’t done with you yet.” There is, “we’ve got more things to try.” There is, in a word, hope.
I need me some of that. Toni has pointed out that there are times that I can find the dark cloud behind any silver lining. (Had you only known me before I met you, young lady. Now that Tim could really find darkness where there was only light.) The medical team is set to battle on.
In an instant, I was reminded of how delicate life is and how things can change at a moment’s notice. Reflecting upon these events inspired me to expand upon and ultimately finish this previously composed music. Only Light is meant to convey a sense of hope and healing.
The original version of Only Light was commissioned by Richard Mark Heidel and the University of Iowa Symphony Band. It was premiered at the North Central CBDNA Conference on February 28, 2014. Only Light was the winner of the 2015 American Bandmasters Association Sousa/Ostwald Award.