Towards The Light by Skaila Kanga


Three Concert Pieces for Solo Harp: Towards The Light, Perpetual Dream and Distant Horizons


This collection of pieces is written with ‘artistic freedom’ as its focal point. Each piece can be played on its own, or coupled with one other, or as an entire suite in whatever order chosen by the performer. In this way, the player moulds the music to his or her own mood or musical journey – to end strongly or quietly, defiantly or serenely...


Towards the Light is an episodic work beginning with the dark, deep awakenings of Planet Earth followed by the onset of both calm and torrid waters over the land masses. Storms and tranquillity vie for supremacy leading to a tantalising dance-like movement with a driving, persistent 3/4 - 6/8 rhythm, finishing with a fiery volcanic dramatic ending. Contemporary jazz influences play their part in conjunction with modern day harp effects such as tuning key and nail glissandi, percussive nail flicks as well as pedal slides, ‘inverted-scale’ glissandi and chromatic pedal motifs.


Perpetual Dream is based on a hypnotic ostinato sextuplet figure, which murmurs throughout the work as a backdrop to the widelyranging expression of the left hand in elusive melodic fragments with the juxtaposition of harmonic and chromatic tensions and the use of harp harmonics to enhance the atmospheric imagery. The whole piece is based on a jazz scale of Db minor with #11ths and #13ths relentlessly providing the underlying restlessness of the work, which finally disappears into space and timelessness.


Distant Horizons ventures more into a freer contemporary idiom with even greater use of all manner of harp effects, such as pedal slides, percussive soundboard rhythms, gong effect of hitting the lowest wire strings, and ‘brushing fingertips’ glissandi. The constantly changing meters give a timeless feeling of constant searching with some dramatic interruptions. The piece ends serenely with a pure harmonic resolution signalling the hope of enduring peace. These pieces are dedicated to my many wonderful students over the years.