A Shadow is an eight minute setting of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s (1807–1882) poem of the same name, which expresses the feelings of a father who knows he is unlikely to see what will come to pass in the lives of his children. This First World War-themed work was premiered at the 2018 BBC Proms, the UK’s major eight-week classical music summer season festival.
Ešenvalds’ setting of the poem includes moments of dramatic and exclamatory questioning, of flowing passages denoting the enjoyment in life, and softer moments of calm contemplation. He uses the crystal-like sound of metallophones played by some of the singers to represent the unchanging flow of time.
Commissioned for and performed by the BBC Proms Youth Choir under the direction of Simon Halsey, A Shadow was the opening performance of Prom 9: War & Peace in the Royal Albert Hall, which celebrated the centenary year of the end of the First World War. It also featured Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 and Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem, performed by the World Orchestra for Peace and conducted by Donald Runnicles.
Photo: BBC Proms