With tremors that started in May of 1883, the volcano on the Indonesian island of Krakatoa fully erupted on August 26th of that same year. The eruption continued until the late morning of August 27th, destroying over 70% of the island, the surrounding archipelago, and collapsed into a caldera.
This event is counted as one of the deadliest and most destructive events in recorded history. Over 36,000 deaths were the result of both the eruption and the tsunamis that were created. Weeks later, the eruptions on Krakatoa intensified, causing explosions on neighboring islands. Globally, these explosions had effects on Australia and as far away as South Africa.
The 1883 Krakatoa eruption also darkened the sky worldwide for years afterwards, caused by volcanic ash. Spectacular sunsets were created and they inspired artists to capture the effects. British artist William Ashcroft made numerous color sketches, attempting to capture the look of the red-tinged skies, and there is a theory that Edvard Munch's blood-red sky depicted in the painting, “The Scream”, was inspired from his observing the color of the sky over Norway at the time.
Of all the original compositions and arrangements that I have written, this is my first foray into program music. Program music can be a difficult genre; has the story really been conveyed? Does the orchestration fit the composition? Is it too short, or rather, way too long.
I decided to write this for woodwind choir, rather than woodwind quintet. The sound of a woodwind choir offers enough variety of sound to convey both the frenetic quality of panic, fear, and desperation of a volcanic eruption, and yet the calm, sadness of how people felt, not knowing when things were going to erupt again.
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