From Subverting Laughter:

"Re-Awakenings: MacDonald and Music, which has developed from responses to the initial Subverting Laughter project, brings together artists from the U.K. and the U.S in an exploration of how musical interpretations of MacDonald’s texts might increase our understanding of character and imagination.  Combining a wide variety of musical genres and backgrounds, Matthew, John and Stefan provide musical movement to awaken new reflections of MacDonald and of the fantastic imagination."

I composed ‘The Light Princess Suite’ as a collection of six short pieces for solo piano, each intended to portray characters, scenes, or concepts from George MacDonald’s fairy tale, The Light Princess. These programmatic pieces take MacDonald at his word when he writes in 'The Fantastic Imagination', “where [a writer’s] object is to move by suggestion, to cause to imagine, then let him assail the soul of his reader as the wind assails an aeolian harp. If there be music in my reader, I would gladly wake it.” 


The Light Princess Suite I. "The King and Queen"

"Once upon a time, so long ago that I have quite forgotten the date, there lived a king and queen who had no children." MacDonald's subversive and comical treatment of fairy tale conventions in general and the King and Queen in particular afford fruitful musical exploration through fanfare tropes, dance rhythms, and derailments.


The Light Princess Suite II. "Lagobel"

"The palace was built on the shores of the loveliest lake in the world; and the princess loved this lake more than father or mother." Throughout his writings, MacDonald developed a profound symbolism of water as a site of liminality, ambiguity, awakening, and becoming. These themes are articulated through coloristic harmonies, steady figuration, and large, waving gestures.


The Light Princess Suite III. "The Princess"

"Nor, thoughtless as she was, had she committed anything worse than laughter at everybody and everything that came in her way... She never smiled." MacDonald's heroine unfortunate lack of physical and moral gravity fills the tale with spontaneous outbursts, inverted expectations, and transgressions of normalcy. This travestied waltz can barely hold it together for a full phrase.


The Light Princess Suite IV. "Princess Makemnoit and the White Snake of Darkness"

"She was a sour, spiteful creature. The wrinkles of contempt crossed the wrinkles of peevishness, and made her face as full of wrinkles as a pat of butter." This extravagant villain lunges menacingly about in the rhythm of a dissonant sarabande with a dodecaphonic climax as though cackling, "This is worth living for!"


The Light Princess Suite V. "The Prince"

"It must have been about this time that the son of a king, who lived a thousand miles from Lagobel set out to look for the daughter of a queen." A self-possessed hero expressed through a self-assured piece that holds true through various harmonic, metric, and textural challenges.


The Light Princess Suite VI. "...gravitas..."

"And a rain came on, such as had never been seen in that country. The sun shone all the time, and the great drops, which fell straight to the earth, shone likewise. The palace was in the heart of a rainbow. It was a rain of rubies, and sapphires, and emeralds, and topazes." For MacDonald the lifting of a fairy-tale's curse is not an end, but a beginning towards something more whole and beautiful and active. This final piece is in many ways a summation that cyclically references previous themes within a flowing and stately texture.