for the centennial celebration of the Rochester Symphony Orchestra
available for performance after September 2024

  • 3(III:pic).2.3(II:Ebcl.III:bcl).3(III:cbn)/4.3.2+btbn.1/timp.3perc/pf/str
  • 10 min

Programme Note

Composer note

When I began composing last spring, I had a very difficult time finding a title for the work that complemented my musical ideas. Over months I searched for texts which included bells and sky - images very much in my mind then – and through a stroke of luck I found the a poem, Ring Out, Wild Bells by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Though published in 1850 the poetry speaks profoundly to our world at this time, echoing hopes for new beginnings. By the time I located Tennyson’s words the piece had already developed much of its direction and flow, but as I continued toward completion the underlying messages of the poem began to affect the music in unexpected ways. This frequently shifting characters in the  music - celebratory, light, energetic, hyperactive, reflective, noble - strongly contrasts with (and hopefully complements) the tone of the poem, which has its own seriousness of purpose and panorama of ideas.

Wild Sky is written for large orchestra and is approximately 10 minutes long. It was written in celebration of 100th anniversary of the Rochester Philharmonic and dedicated to Maestro Andreas Delfs and the musicians of the RPO.

- Aaron Jay Kernis


Ring out, wild bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let it die.


Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Ring, happy bells, across the snow:

The year is going, let it go;

Ring out the false, ring in the true.


Ring out the grief that saps the mind

For those that here we see no more;

Ring out the feud of rich and poor,

Ring in redress to all mankind.


Ring out a slowly dying cause,

And ancient forms of party strife;

Ring in the nobler modes of life,

With sweeter manners, purer laws.


Ring out the want, the care, the sin,

The faithless coldness of the times; 

Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes

But ring the fuller minstrel in.


Ring out false pride in place and blood,

The civic slander and the spite;

Ring in the love of truth and right,

Ring in the common love of good.


Ring out old shapes of foul disease;

Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;

Ring out the thousand wars of old,

Ring in the thousand years of peace.


Ring in the valiant man and free,

The larger heart, the kindlier hand;

Ring out the darkness of the land,

Ring in Love that is to be.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson



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