171. CFAMC Listening Page – Josh Rodriguez

JANUARY 20, 2019
Josh Rodriguez
Into Bright Shadows
Laura Hairgrove Randall, flute
Robert Nicholson, cello
Mary Vanhoozer, piano

MP3 Score

The pdf is for viewing only. Please contact the composer for further use.


Into Bright Shadows for flute, cello, and piano, presents three movements each exploring moments of existential awareness. The first movement opens with a mysterious tone: a repetitious cyclical piano part underscores the interjectory conversations of flute and cello music. In the center of the movement, this musical duet continues even after the piano stops, and continues as the piano re-enters playing its previous music backwards; some of the flute and cello music is also in retrograde, and some of it is new – a musical depiction of artistic creativity within the passing of time and the cyclical nature of history.

The second movement (Northernness) is a simple modal chant-like melody over arpeggiating piano accompaniment, reminiscent of Arvo Pärt’s quiet, sorrowful music. It was my aim to musically recreate a “glimpse of the beauty of another world that awakened a yearning both for that world and for the experience of desiring that world” – perhaps like the one C.S. Lewis describes in his autobiographical Surprised by Joy.

The third movement, (Jangled) explodes with exuberant festivity. Elements of Latin American music, extended instrumental technique, singing, and driving rhythms propel this music. I imagine the character of this movement as an oasis in a desert – the revitalization of one who is parched and has finally found water. Oddly enough, it’s this movement that is perhaps most akin to the chamber music of Haydn with its surprising exploration of deep joy, humor, and confidence as realities to be acknowledged and not simply as a coping mechanism for a bleak existence. It is this discovery of the possibility of an abundant inner life that I hope to convey throughout this work.


I believe that God is Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer of his creation, and that men and women bear the image of this creating, persevering, self-sacrificing God. I see my work as sacred, as part of God’s work of healing and restauration on earth. Thus, I feel strongly that we must give more than we take, and that this is part of a greater mandate to care for the earth even as we pursue creative endeavors. Music is more than a career or means of paying the bills or satisfying creative urges; I see artistic work as a vocation and as worship. Musical space is one that can be saturated by the Trinitarian presence: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

In matters of faith and art integration, my role models are Charles Ives, Olivier Messiaen, and Arvo Part. I’ve taken much inspiration from their lives and music. Charles Ives’ blend of recognizable tunes into inventive tapestries of sound, offers one possibility. I too have incorporated various tunes and rhythms from popular and church music into my music as part of a greater artistic narrative. Messiaen strived to so integrate his musical ideas with theological concepts that it’s difficult to discuss his music without exploring Roman Catholic theology. The result is a powerful, overwhelming musical style that while alienating some, also draws others who are interested in the ideas which he explores (like Eternity, the transcendence of Christ the God/Man, the power of nature). From Arvo Part, I’ve learned to appreciate silence; in the loud, clamoring world of artistic expression, he ministers to his audience through silence – the profound healing presence of God found in both the absence – the space between the notes – as well as presence – the modal “bright sadness” of his music.

In my opinion, we are experiencing one of the most exciting times in “new music.” Classical art music is a flexible canvas on which people from around the world can communicate and are doing so, and it is a space in which Christian women and men of conviction and compassion should speak with courage.


Josh Rodriguez was born in Argentina and spent his childhood in Guatemala and Mexico. He completed a BA in Music through Thomas Edison State College and MM in Composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Awarded the prestigious Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship at the University of California, Los Angeles, Rodriguez moved to California completing his Ph.D. in Composition (2015). Rodriguez’s music spans various genres including classical concert music, film scores, sacred choral works, and contemporary popular songs. He currently serves at the Collinsworth School of Music at California Baptist University as Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Composition.