City of Sunlight

for children's chorus

(Audio coming soon.)

Duration: 6:30

Year of composition: 2015

Commissioned by the Colorado Children’s Chorale

Program note:

City of Sunlight is a celebration of Denver, Colorado, a city popularly said to average 300 days of sunlight per year. Reflecting on both the history and everyday life of the city, the piece starts in the present and moves back in time. The opening line is inspired by standing on a butte at night overlooking the city and pondering how quickly and recently it came into existence. The piece goes on to address the joys and concerns of being a kid in the city; Chicano culture and the Spanish language (via text by Abelardo Lalo Delgado); the languages of the Arapaho and Cheyenne peoples who once called this area home; the joys and concerns of being in one’s 20s in the city; the role of Denver as an economic hub of the region; and an imaginary miner’s song (set to text by Eugene Fields) that hearkens back to the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s which drove Denver’s early growth. The conclusion of the piece celebrates the unique geography of Colorado and Denver, and references a line by the great American writer and transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, who wrote, “In short, all good things are wild and free” and “in Wildness is the preservation of the World.”

John Boggs and I wrote City of Sunlight collaboratively – we have been co-writing music for many years and it’s always great fun. One of the highlights of the process was the incredible hospitality and generosity shown to us by the family of the late poet Abelardo Lalo Delgado, who gave us the chance to read through some of Mr. Delgado’s as-of-yet unpublished works.


From this bluff, endless lights strewn like flick’ring seeds overlain night plains once wide and empty in the moon.Us humans do hurriedly build new worlds.

Miss bus to school, make sister drive, cram for Science, shoot hoops at lunch, Nervous for presentation, not shy in choir, but shy when public speaking.Homework’s all done, read Narnia, plan this Sunday climbing Quandary.

Glendale, Baker, Cap Hill, Lincoln, RiNo, Five Points, Park Hill, Lowry, Berkeley, Globeville, Sunnyside, LoHi,Montbello, Stapleton, Elyria Swansea, Ruby Hill, Harvey Park, Marlee, Westwood, Valverde, Barnum,Cherry Creek, Hilltop, Hale, U Hills, Wash Park, Overland, Rosedale.
Kennedy, Hampden, Virginia Village.

No me voy a olvidar del Espanol que es muy lindo
tal agua de Tamarindo.
(I’ll never forget Spanish, which is as beautiful as tamarind nectar)

No me voy a olvidar the Arapaho y Cheyenne (I will not forget the Arapaho and Cheyenne…)
who spoke tongues now ghosts in this land.

Jog Cheesman Park, head in to work, serving Denver killer coffee
Big thunderstorm as I walk home. Load up the van with my punk band, play gig at Seventh Circle.

Denver, Queen City of the Plains.
Veins of ore, cattle, oil, ideas run downhill through this heart pumping to the world. Poets, cowgirls, boom-and-busters.
Did they know they would build such a hardy city?

The very recollection of them puddins ‘nd them pies brings a yearnin’ to my buzzum and a water to my eyes,And seems like cookin’ naw-a-days ain’t what it used to be in camp on Red Hoss Mountain back in 1863! Our brawny arms, the flinty ribs of Red Hoss Mountain smote.

Us old chaps like to set around away from folks and noise ‘nd think about the sights we seen and things we done as boys, The which is why I love to set and think of them old days, when all us Western fellers got the Colorado Craze! Colorado Craze, got the Colorado Craze!

Splendid Colorado, brims with harmony.
Ranges of the mighty Rockies, cherish them wild and free.

Prairies, sandstone, ponderosa, ramblers of the wilderness. Rivers tumbling in the spring singing “water is precious!” Empty, wild, free. Free, free, wild and free.
City of Sunlight!