The pandemic has seared many images into our consciousness. For me, one that made a deep impression was during the second wave in India. There were so many deaths from Covid that the funeral pyres, which were burning day and night, led to intense, thick, clouds of smoke.
Smoke Darkened Sky was commissioned by Jennifer Taylor for Music Toronto for a recital by David Jalbert — one of the first concerts as we return to the stage after being shut for the past 18 months. The single-movement piece explores grief, rage, desperation, and reflection. It explores thickening texture through a variety of techniques, including extended techniques developed by George Crumb.
The very end of the piece is based on the Darbari raga from Hindustani classical music. It is a raga that has the ability for profound emotional impact.