Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

World Premiere of “Dark Sky” at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania

April 8 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm



Wells-Rapp Center for Mallet Percussion Research – YouTube

6:45 EDT Pre-Concert Talk
7:30 EDT pm Concert

Scroll down to read the poem “The Stars Beyond the Stars” by Brandon Krieg
commissioned by Jenni to set in Dark Sky.

Death Valley Symphony: Dark Sky
Music by Jenni Brandon
Poem by Brandon Krieg


World Premieres at Kutztown University, Pennsylvania with Heartland Marimba, Kutztown University Percussion Ensemble, Kutztown University Choirs
April 8, 2024: Wells-Rapp Center for Mallet Percussion Research
April 9, 2024: Georgian Room, Old Main Building, Kutztown University

For Tickets and LIVESTREAM information, visit Wells-Rapp Center for Mallet Percussion Research – Resonators Echo Spring Festival (kucmpr.org)

Dark Sky – a new work by California composer Jenni Brandon for Marimba Quartet, Percussion Ensemble, SATB choir and Piano explores the beauty of Death Valley National Park’s pristine dark skies using original poetry by Brandon Krieg, Kutztown University Professor of English and Poetry. Part of a concert-length work, this movement “Dark Sky” is a collaboration between Heartland Marimba Quartet, Kutztown University Percussion Ensemble, Kutztown University Choirs, with immersive video created for the performances by KU professor Dale Parsons.

With some of the darkest night skies in the United States, Death Valley is designated as a “Dark Sky Park” and offers a view of celestial objects often not visible in any other part of the world. Using the colors of the ensemble, this work will take the audience on a journey through the world’s hottest place on Earth illuminated by the light of stars to see the parks many animals, badlands, sand dunes, multi-hued hills and craters illuminated by the light of the night sky, and to look beyond into the vast universe.

Premieres during the 2023-2024 season include two performances at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania to celebrate the inaugural year of the Wells-Rapp Center for Mallet Percussion Research at Kutztown University.

Heartland Marimba will also perform two additional movements from Death Valley Symphony:
1. Badwater Basin for Marimba Quartet
2. Clay Pipes and Spiral Shells for two marimbas and narrator (U.S. Premiere)

Additional movements of this work are commissioned and premiered by Heartland Marimba Quartet and Duo Lin-Lynn. The work “Clay Pipes and Spiral Shells” for marimba duo with narrator (with poetry by Brandon Krieg) will appear on Duo Lin-Lynn’s upcoming album release in 2024.

The Stars Beyond the Stars 

Poem by Brandon Krieg 


Go to the lowest place with me 

I invite you lower 

All ways will pass through if we go lower 

all the lightnings we can bear 

will write themselves on a floor of salt  

fanning outward into wing-vein patterns,  

into the vein patterns in the transparent delicate skin 

of ears that flicker at footfalls, 

and we will feel the forkings of our blood 

at the ankle and at the wrist 


Here Ocean the source of all blood was  

before us, and couldn’t wait 

like all things riding the blue fire down can’t wait 

and got up and walked off 

in blackfly and woodrat and wind 


Come down from the incandescent sick thrones,  

You have hidden so long under the small lights 

Come down under the big lights now and unhide  

See what you thought your self was  

from the numberless points of night 

With the tips of the spiny saltbush  

with the tips of the creosote  

disguised in its wind-caked salts as constant lightning 

let us receive 

the stars beyond the stars 


Beyond is all through us now pouring forth 

Beyond is all through us now pouring 

Come down where numbers dissolve  

Relax your face clenched from its ledgers 

The salt flat spider’s web is a mirror  

held up to sky’s mirror 

dimensioning this one great room 

that flows around the salamander’s pulse  

this room whose walls are sweltering waves 

of liquid dolomite rising up  

rippling around the pool where the kit fox drinks 


There are no father tongues 

there are feather tongues that taste air 

Hear hummingbird’s wings tasting air  

and become deliciously plural  

and feel in your pulse all the pulses 

that will ramify the salt beneath your feet 

The sky is a membrane vascular with light  

Let us take transfusion the old way  

the way water wicks from thistle’s involucre  

through the veins in a swallowtail’s wing 

the way Adrienne and Adrianne sang 


What are these close dark spirals  

rhyming the far light spirals,  

making eddies where time spools out of itself? 

It is bats bearing up our blood  

lifted into their milk by mosquitoes  

they carry to the mouths of the measureless  


Down here embodiment is breaking 

The bone core is grinding its gears down 

Come effervesce with me 

let the rivers of the earth wick their way  

through our bodies back to shimmering overall  

and drop back again to new forms 


To whatever larger is  

To whatever listening is  

through the I’s dissolves  

To whatever larger is listening 

through the I gone plural  

the I gone hurting its plural hurts 

through fathomless spirals 

traceries in sand 

wind writes and revises 

Here is a thread 

of sicklight vibrating 

like a wave-wall of liquid granite rising vibrating 

like a tuning fork struck 

by pulse’s lightning 

Let us reside in resonance 

to honor all becomings 

to honor is to laugh with creosote  

at its trick of constant lightning  


lightning is lightning  

because it vanishes 


“THE STARS BEYOND THE STARS” © 2023 Brandon Krieg. Used with permission. For more poems by Brandon Krieg visit www.brandonkrieg.com 



Wells-Rapp Center for Mallet Percussion Research
Kutztown, PA United States + Google Map