The Florida Orchestra: “Deep Field” Broadcast

Eric Whitacre (Photo Credit: Marc Royce)

This week’s Thursday Masterwork with The Florida Orchestra, acclaimed choral composer and conductor Eric Whitacre leads the orchestra along with the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay performing his signature piece “Lux Arurumque,” as well as “Equus,” and “Deep Field. Plus music by Bernstein and Copland!

The Conductor

Eric Whitacre is one of classical music’s most celebrated and sought-after performers. Whitacre studied at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music and is now a Grammy Award-winning composer and conductor. In addition, he collaborated with legendary film composer Hans Zimmer on two films and has composed works for the London Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and the Minnesota Orchestra, to name a few. Eric Whitacre possesses an amazing skillset for classical music that will be heard during this broadcast.[1]

The Works

Whitacre’s “Lux Aurumque,” or “Light and Gold,” was inspired by Edward Esch’s poem of the same name. The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay commissioned the work and is dedicated to Whitacre’s friend Dr. Jo Michael Scheibe, who was the music director of the Master Chorale at the time of the commission.[2]

In 1996, Gary Green approached Whitacre about a possible commission for the wind ensemble at the University of Miami. Whitacre accepted the offer and composed the piece “Equus” for the ensemble. Whitacre has stated the work is made of “dynamic minimalism,” or a repetition of tones that hold a unique sound.[3]

While on leave from his position as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein composed his “Chichester Psalms” for Very Reverend Walter Hussey. The work was commissioned for the Chichester Cathedral’s 1965 music festival and premiered at the Philharmonic Hall on July 15, 1965. “Chichester Psalms” is filled with tuneful melodies that combine both Biblical Hebrew verses and Christian choral traditions.[4]

In 1939, Copland composed “Quiet City” for a play of the same name. Unfortunately, the play failed but Copland’s piece went on to become one of his most frequently performed works.[5] “Quiet City” has a calm, peaceful melody that still possesses a darker theme. 

“Deep Field” was inspired by Whitacre’s interest in space and, specifically, the Hubble Space Telescope. The work was co-commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra and BBC Radio 3. The work was also incorporated into the film “Deep Field: The Impossible Magnitude of our Universe,” which adds to the scores intergalactic theme by including images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.[6]

Stay Connected

Classical WSMR thanks The Florida Orchestra for providing us with this broadcast. This helps us to enjoy the music we love during a time where it matters most! Visit The Florida Orchestra’s website for the latest updates on the orchestra at Listen every Thursday for a Masterwork with The Florida Orchestra. You can listen live at 89.1 or 103.9, on, and from your smartphone with the WUSF Public Media App. Also, you can ask your Smart Speaker to play Classical WSMR. If you miss a broadcast, you can listen to it on-demand at for 45 days after the airdate.


[1] “Biography (Long).” Eric Whitacre, 12 June 2019, 

[2] “Lux Aurumque – Music Catalog.” Eric Whitacre, 12 June 2019,

[3]  “Equus – Music Catalog.” Eric Whitacre, 12 June 2019, 

[4] “Leonard Bernstein at 100.” Works | Works | Leonard Bernstein,

[5] “VIDEO: Copland’s Quiet City – La Jolla Symphony & Chorus – UCSD-TV – University of California Television.” UCSD,

[6] “Deep Field – Music Catalog.” Eric Whitacre, 12 June 2019,

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