As a composer, I’m generally neither convinced by, nor given to political statements in an abstract medium like instrumental music, but 2011 was a rough year. Populist, anti-intellectual upheavals in my dual homelands of Finland and Canada, and elsewhere in the supposedly enlightened West, made it seem as if the entire world were rushing headlong into a new spiritual dark age, with the arts, as usual, held up as a scapegoat, even by those tasked to support and defend them. During a period of particular despair, a faraway friend commented to me, “I guess these are exactly the kind of times we need art for – when the reality is difficult to bear.” From this exchange, the idea emerged of art as a kind of light in dark times, when minds and hearts close, simple disagreement turn into irrational enmity, and discourse grows toxic from fear and cynicism. Creating becomes an act of defiance against ignorance and uncaring, and a way of resisting the impulse toward withdrawal. I came out with a renewed determination to generate as much light and beauty as possible, and do my part to illuminate the gloom. A little over a year later, I wrote this music in an effort live out that resolution in real time, as it were, from its anxious, unfocused beginning to a quiet sort of transcendence at the end; to rise above the world’s difficulties and view things in the clear light of day.
The light of day was commissioned by Jaakko Kuusisto and Paavali Jumppanen, and is dedicated to them.