LUX CONTRITUM (Broken Light) ©2017

Commissioned by Sister Lauretta Linsalata, Gary Zimmaro and Ed Stimson

For the 2018 All Catholic Festival Chorus and Orchestra

To premier on April 17, 2018 Verizon Hall, The Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Conducted by, Sean J. Kennedy


LUX CONTRITUM | Broken Light 2017 

A composition for Full Orchestra and Chorus 

Sean J. Kennedy (b. 1971)  

Throughout my career as a musician I have been privileged to perform and visit many churches in Europe and North America. Most of these beautiful buildings include elaborate stained glass windows. The history of stained glass windows is rooted in the wide spread illiteracy of congregations hundreds of years ago. They were created to convey a message quickly and easily. Stories of faith and lessons were the predominant theme of the windows. Some of the oldest windows have been found in archeological digs in Italy dating back to 800 AD. When basking in the glow of one of these windows a sense of calm is almost always experienced by the visitor. I have always been amazed that a beam of light, individual pieces of iron and broken glass can blend together and create a beautiful, singular, otherworldly, sense of calm and awe, much like a piece of music. Both invite the audience to have their own deeply personal experiences. Being tasked to compose this important piece of music for such a wide range of ages, abilities, instruments and voices, was daunting, to say the least. For a few weeks I sketched ideas down and recorded motifs, with nothing too inspiring, until I remembered a particularly beautiful stained glass window that I saw in Florence, Italy at The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Standing in the sun’s warm glow as it reached through the colored glass adorning the window, I was overcome with a sense of warmth and serenity, created by those tiny, individual pieces of broken glass. The experience was overwhelming and unforgettable. At this time in history we all see lots of pieces of broken glass (sadness, tyranny, violence, etc…). We see these pieces in the news, in our neighborhoods, in our school and sometimes sadly, in our homes. However, if we all take ownership in trying to make the world a more peaceful and joyous place everyday, with just one small gesture, we, like a stained glass window can turn thousands of pieces of broken glass into one beautiful illumination of peace and love.