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COINCIDENCES? The Festival of Light Story

This letter was written to the kids of Bishop Ireton HS... 20 years ago.  I post this letter today on 16 April, as Israel sounds the Siren to commemorate the Holocaust, discovered 70 years ago during this Time.


A Journey into the Storm by the
Premiere Forces of

IGNA 8-9-11 April 1995


There are those who have silenced resonance with the Great Music that exceeds all laws of probability and coincidence. This is not for them.

It begins at 3:33pm on a Bridge in Boston. Impossible to list all of the subsequent events including the numbers 3, 33 and 333, we fast-forward to the completion date of Festival of Light, commissioned by Garwood Whaley and the Bishop Ireton Musicians. The horn solo, a symbol of the Eternal Light was written at lapsed-real-time 3:33, and was composed at 3:33pm. The entire work was completed and saved to disk at 3:33am.

333’s accompanied Brian and I on the trip from New Jersey to Alexandria.  License plates to restaurant tabs... $13.33 for instance. Three times, hawks flew over our car during the trip and each time, they were in groups of three. Now, onto the piece!

Festival of Light was supposed to be delivered and premiered in 1996.  I had completed it much earlier and sent it.  The other commission for 1995 fell through. Dr. Whaley received Festival of Light at a time that allowed him a new option. While writing, I had no idea that Bishop Ireton High School was a Catholic school as was Iona Prep, where I spent my 9th-grade. When Brian and I walked in, we saw the jackets and ties and realized what was happening.

After our first RE-hearsal on Friday, we attended an assembly at which a survivor of the Holocaust spoke.  She met her husband-to-be in the slave labor camp. We dedicated the piece to her and her husband.  They were in the audience that night.  At this rehearsal we determined that Brian needed to play the chimes. Brian is Jewish, and in many ways, he was an inspiration for this piece. It is in the chime part that we find the iteration of the 8 days of burning Light.

If you check out the 4/4-5/8 section, you will see that they are in units of 8. Why 4/4-5/8?  That is because there are 13-1/8th notes, or 8 units of 13. These are Fibonacci numbers. And why 13?  Jesus was the 13th person at the Passover, a Passover we are soon to approach.

This brings us to the Ram’s Horn, the Shofar, which we obtained from the Rabbi. He told the story of the Ram’s Horn... how it came from the sacrificial Ram of Abraham and how it symbolized a “loud voice” that was used to call upon God.

Fitting. When Dr. Whaley told me over the phone that he couldn’t get the trumpet player back to the tam for the initially written effect, I decided to get a real Ram’s Horn. Later that same day, we went to a Dodge Ram dealer.  The logo on their car, the one we purchased for a friend... was, yes, a Ram, complete with horns. Interestingly enough, when we returned on Sunday, The Ten Commandments was on TV. Brian called me when he got home and told me to watch.  We had been talking about Moses and more. When I turned on the television, there was a scene playing that I had not remembered. Incredibly, Moses was hollowing out a Ram’s Horn!

A Ram’s horn grows in the proportion of the Fibonacci Series, the same mathematical underpinning for the Stormworks and for the Stormworks Logo... and indeed, Festival of Light. Again, there is much too much to write. The Fibonacci Series, in my work and its far reaching implications to the ever expanding world of connections is Monumental.

Monumental. Now there’s a good word. Prior to my trip to Alexandria, I was in Oswego, New York... the same number of miles from Ramsey... oh, my God... RAMsey... as was Alexandria... only North. There we delivered The Fountainhead... the last movement of which is called, Monument to the Spirit of Man.  This is the first line of the program notes from The Fountainhead. “God Architectured the World and then in the greatest Storm, Architectured Man, granting Him the miraculous ability to Architecture Himself and His surroundings.”

Festival of Light was premiered in... yes a Monument, a Monument to George Washington, and more than a Monument, a Temple, and not just a Temple, but a Temple whose fundamental bricks were modeled after the exacting brick-dimensions used in King Soloman’s Temple of Jerusalem. Do you remember our discussion about “architecture” prior to ever visiting this Monument/Temple?
Keep all of this in mind as we continue into this miracle.

As Brian and I drove up to the Monument/Temple, I asked Brian, “What would you do, if after the concert, we came out and right up there, above the Monument, we saw a Star of David?”  Looking back, I’m not even sure why this thought came to me, but you could feel so much Good in the air.

Brian smiled. “Well... it would be a miracle,” he said.

Festival of Light is dedicated to “all those who believe in miracles”...

The fact that our concert was rendered with the US Air Force Band is still, yet another significant connection/coincidence.  That story is involved. Suffice it to say, that it was the USAF Band that first commissioned Stormworks, the piece... and that the man who recorded the concert was the same man who first conducted the premiere of that piece.

You guys have played Stormworks and Escape from Plato’s Cave!, two pieces which were intimately connected to the flow of events regarding this night.  The dedication is on video tape.  Maybe someone could send me a copy. I mentioned many of the things written in this letter. My intention was to suggest a “coming together of forces.” In every part of me, I felt that we were their for a reason, an important reason, which many of us may never know!  The great and noble purpose of Music is to give. I’m glad we were given the opportunity to give that moment to the Spiegels and every person in that room.

After the concert, Brian and I stayed, needing to pack up and discuss a recording project. It was approaching midnight. The night was special, windy and moist. The misty sky was hazily lit by a half-moon. The night watchman said, “Hey, have you ever been up to the top?”


We squeezed into the rickety 70-year-old elevator and pulleyed to the top of the Monument. The door opened. The night watchman said, “This ... is a replica of King Soloman’s Throne.” We were in a room dedicated to the historic creation of the Temple of Jerusalem.  Museum-like, the room was filled with artifacts from Jerusalem, with Hebrew writings on the walls and tiny statues of people mentioned in the Bible. In a large glass case was a Bible and it was opened up to 1 KINGS... The Temple Building.  The passage described the building of the Temple of Jerusalem. It was built in the 2nd month of the year 960 BC. Please check the date on the score! It was built in 3 parts, one of which held the ark of the covenant. It had 3 outer walls, which were 3 stories high.  

It was from this SAME passage, presented behind polished glass that I gathered the mathematics needed to compose Festival of Light!

After reading The Fountainhead in high school, and having just premiered the Music, I was intrigued by this well-honoured documentation of Architecture.  On top of a closed building, behind a glass case, the Bible was opened to this particular chapter... in a room replicating King Solomon’s Throne. The room was atop the Monument/Temple where we had just premiered Festival of Light , a work dedicated to survivors of the Holocaust, who found Love in the face of great adversity.

There is more.  Since I am at a loss for words, there will be more Music.

But in closing, allow me to tell you what it was I saw in the glass case... at eye-level when the elevator door opened. It was a Shofar, a Ram’s Horn. You must go up and see it.  The Shofar was the same color and about the same size... with only one difference. You see, our horn was apparently from the Right side of the Ram... and the one in the case was from the other side!

So runs the great Storm of Time and wonder and miracle. There are those who would say that all of these many overlaps are pure coincidence. For them , I feel sorry. I would ask them to contemplate the number of variables beginning years and years ago... and all the countless subsequent events that would need to be aligned in order to have this one moment in the great expanse of Time occur just as it did. Think of it.

There is one more thing, something I saw with Brian.  It is subjective and I shall leave it out of this compendium. Suffice it to say that as I was leaving the Monument on early Sunday morning, I looked up... and... well let’s say I saw something interesting.

GODSPEED always.  Stephen Melillo

PS: By the time you get this you will have returned from Europe. I hope you enjoyed your trip and that you experienced many wondrous things.

PS 2: I love you guys.

PS 3: 9 April is a very important date in History.  Please discover it.  Then, 11 April.  On this day, unplanned and off by one year because of a “coincidental” mishap, we premiered Festival of Light.   On that DAY... 50 years ago to the day... the Allies discovered and liberated the first of the concentration camps.... where the Spiegels were.  I learned of this just last night, on 23 April 1995!

Life is short, but so so wide....

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One of MANY AWESOME moments with humility and pure inspiration.....I am honored to be your friend

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