• Missy Mazzoli
  • Dark with Excessive Bright (Concerto for Contrabass and String Orchestra) (2018)

  • G Schirmer Inc (World)

Commissioned by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Aurora

UK premiere reserved.

  • str ( players)
  • Double bass
  • 13 min

Programme Note

Related works:
   Dark with Excessive Bright (Concerto for Contrabass and String Orchestra)
   Dark with Excessive Bright (Concerto for Contrabass and String Quintet)
   Dark with Excessive Bright (Concerto for Violin and String Quintet)

Composer note:
While composing Dark with Excessive Bright for contrabass soloist Maxime Bibeau and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, I continuously listened to music from the Baroque and Renaissance eras. I was inspired in no small part by Maxime's double bass, a massive instrument built in 1580 that was stored in an Italian monastery for hundreds of years and even patched with pages from the Good Friday liturgy. I imagined this instrument as a historian, an object that collected the music of the passing centuries in the twists of its neck and the fibers of its wood, finally emerging into the light at age 400 and singing it all into the world. While loosely based in Baroque idioms, this piece slips between string techniques from several centuries, all while twisting a pattern of repeated chords beyond recognition. "Dark with excessive bright," a phrase from Milton's Paradise Lost, is a surreal and evocative description of God, written by a blind man. I love the impossibility of this phrase, and felt it was a strangely accurate way to describe the dark but heartrending sound of the double bass itself. Dark with Excessive Bright was commissioned by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Aurora Orchestra in London.

— Missy Mazzoli


Complete World premiere recording with Australian Chamber Orchestra and Maxime Bibeau, soloist


Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Performed and recorded on November 16, 2019. The soloist for this performance is LACO’s principal bass David Grossman, an educator and bicoastal multi-faceted musician who is also a member of the New York Philharmonic.

View Score