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The piece is a commemoration for composer John Ritchie (J.A.R.), my father, who died in 2014, aged 93. He had a long association with the Woolston Band, composing several pieces for them. The title He is Starlight is a line from a poem called Frost by Cilla McQueen, which describes a bereavement. I like idea that when someone dies they join the stars. This idea is suggested through musical imagery, with prominent use of glockenspiel, vibes and tubular bells, as well as mutes on the brass. The music also integrates a short quotation from John Ritchie's well-known Clarinet Concertino (1958). The slow opening leads to a faster, more ebullient section, which captures some of my father's energy as a busy musician.
He is Starlight was commissioned by Margaret Austin with financial support from UNESCO, for performance by The Woolston Band at the 2015 Festival of Star Light in Twizel, New Zealand.