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NAXOS surround sound recording of Shadow of Sirius

“The music, like the astronomical phenomenon of the analogy, contains a density within a clarity, polyphony within the simple and—most importantly—is a beautiful and seemingly spiritual work.”

Daniel Coobs, Audiophile Audition

concerto for flute & wind ensemble
20 minutes

commissioned by a consortium led by The University of Michigan


flute soloist

6 flute (In the balcony or in the back of the hall)
2 oboes
6 clarinets
bass clarinet
2 bassoon
2 alto saxophone
tenor saxophone
baritone saxophone

3 trumpets in B-flat
4 horns
2 trombones
bass trombone

double bass

5 percussion:
chimes (2 sets) glockenspiel 2 vibraphones tam-tam (at least 36’ preferred) 2 marimbas (5 octave)


I have always found comfort in poetry. While in school, I was the guy with a collection of Bukowski under one arm and a collection of Yeats under the other. I have always enjoyed the rhythm of other people’s thoughts and feelings.

In the winter of 2009, my wife and I experienced a heartbreak that left me unsure of how to even breathe, let alone grieve.

On March 1st, 2009, I found a copy of W.S. Merwin’s, The Shadow of Sirius, and I began to feel myself heal. I have almost no idea what most of this poetry means. But I know that it fills me with a profound sadness that is, at the same time, brimming with hope.

I recently heard Mr. Merwin discussing the origin of the title of his collection. He related that scientists have discovered that the star known as Sirius is actually a star system. What looks to our eye like a single object is actually many. Merwin found himself wondering what is on the other side of Sirius, lying in its shadow.

A friend once said to me, “many concerti explore a virtuosity of technique but not many explore a virtuosity of expression.” It was with that thought in mind that I began work on my, The Shadow of Sirius, for solo flute and wind orchestra.

Each movement offers my reflection on a single Merwin poem from the collection. Although the work is played without pause, the soloist plays unaccompanied solos to separates the individual movements.

A consortium of American wind ensembles led by Michael Haithcock and the University of Michigan commissioned The Shadow of Sirius. The work is dedicated to the fantastic Amy Porter.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to the Copper

Canyon Press, which has granted permission to reprint W.S. Merwin’s poetry. All poems Copyright 2008 by W.S. Merwin. More information about this poetry can be found at:


Puckett Shadow of Sirius perusal