The Circling Canopy of Night
The Circling Canopy of Night is a multi-movement work lasting approximately 20 minutes. The concept of the work was suggested by the model of the geocentric universe of the medievals based on Ptolemy (that is, pre-Copernican), the working of that model as illustrated in the final book of the Divine Comedy (Paradiso) by Dante Alighieri and in The Discarded Image by C.S. Lewis.
The medieval universe was constructed vertically, top to bottom, with the earth as the lowest point and the Empyrean (the dwelling of God) as the highest. Whereas our view of the universe is expanding, cold, dark, infinite, theirs was ordered, fixed, logical and full of light.
The Circling Canopy of Night by Kenneth Hesketh…proved a musical argument of amazing fleetness and polyphonic power
The Sunday Times
First performed by BCMG conducted by Simon Rattle at CBSO Centre, Birmingham on 21 November 1999.