Inside the Shining Stone

Inside the Shining Stone is a piece for multiple-percussion inspired by the sacred spaces of ancient Egypt and conceived to be performed in the sacred places of Norway. It was composed in 2008 and revised in 2011.

Not long after Josh Knight asked me to compose a work for multiple-percussion, I was invited to perform in a series of concerts in Norway. The concerts were part of the European Capital of Culture celebrations in the city of Stavanger, and their theme was a coming together of the Christian and Islamic worlds. When I learned that the venues for each of the five concerts would be historic churches, I was inspired to finish the piece immediately so that it could be performed in Norway.

As I wrote the piece, I thought of my visit to the pyramids in Giza and of being inside the burial chamber of the Pyramid of Khafre. The resonance of the stone room was incredible and my friends and I talked of how amazing it would be to play drums inside the chamber. I thought of building a connection between the stone pyramids of Egypt and the stone churches of Europe. The first performance of
Inside the Shining Stone was given inside the stone Ruinkirke in Sola. The Ruinkirke was originally constructed in the 1100ʼs, destroyed during World War II, and rebuilt from ruins in the 1990ʻs. The final Norwegian performance was given five nights later at the 12th century cathedral in Stavanger (Stavanger Domkirke).

The piece is made up of traditional rhythms that are layered, transformed, broken apart and reassembled. This represents the idea of reassembling the past from fragments of ruins. Although there are often three voices existing at once, no more than two are heard simultaneously. While the piece is structured, the structure is sometimes incomplete or “incorrectly” assembled, just as ancient ruins sometimes are. I also attempt to create a blurring of pulse and time. This is representative of the feeling one has when standing in and around the pyramids, and of the overwhelming power of history.

The “shining stone” is a reference to the original outer layers of the pyramids. Covered with white limestone, the pyramids would shine in the sun and glow in the light of the moon.

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At the pyramids in Giza with Halim El-Dabh and friends. Spring 2002.

A photo of the Sola Ruinkirke taken just before the world premiere of Inside the Shining Stone. It was originally built in 1150, destroyed during WWII, and then rebuilt from the rubble in the early 1980s

A view of the Stavanger Dormkirke where the final Norwegian performance of Inside the Shining Stone was given.

Josh Knight premieres Shining Stone (1 of 1)
Josh Knight gives the U.S. premiere of Inside the Shining Stone at the University of Oklahoma

Recording Inside the Shining Stone for Firefish: The Music of Blake Tyson