Night is the place and time where our thoughts fill the void left as the world falls asleep. Sometimes, we find ourselves at peace. Other times, as the world winds down, our minds rev up through reflection and reminiscence, anxiety and regret, defeat and resilience. Drew Bonner’s Deep, Dark Night is the essence of these moments.
Written in two movements, the first is deeply introspective, beginning with the twinkling of stars at twilight. The first entrance of the tuba gives us the four-note motif that defines the work: D – B-flat – A – G. A yearning leap followed by a stepwise descent is the thought that is repeated, modified, twisted, and yet grounds the entire work. The movement gradually gains momentum and texture, as it steadily turns darker and darker, as the listener becomes consumed by their thoughts. After a churning moment of tension, the movement begins to calm again as it arrives on the work’s sole cadenza, accompanied only by the twinkling of percussion. The movement ends fading away, with the last sounds in the lowest range of the tuba.
The second movement, Agitato, is a complete contrast in every way. Where the first movement allows the listener to sit with their thoughts, the second movement encompasses the feelings of angst, anxiety, uncertainty, and frustration leading to the moment of resilience. Bombastic and primal, the movement is in constant motion through ostinato, driving rhythms, and angular melodies. The final statement of the main motif exists only in the accompaniment, augmented and raucous, as the soloist soars above the calamity.
Deep, Dark Night was commissioned and written for Velvet Brown, David P. Stone Chair and Professor of Tuba and Euphonium at Penn State University.
— Program Note by Dr. Tiffany J. Galus