Number the clouds

Wheaton hosted a world premiere this week.

The renowned ensemble The Hermitage Piano Trio visited campus to perform as part of the long-running Loser Concert Series with a program featuring works by famous composers, works that classical music ensembles have performed many times before.

But one piece stood apart. Number the Clouds, composed by Delvyn Case, associate professor of music at Wheaton, had never been performed for an audience before.

Case composed the piece in 2012, inspired by his many walks in the Wheaton Woods following the death of his first wife. “As I spent those walks thinking and praying for peace, the natural beauty took on spiritual significance for me,” he said.

The title of the composition comes from the Bible’s book of Job, in which God points to creation as the ultimate proof of his omniscience, saying in part: “Who can number the clouds in wisdom.”

“For me, experiencing the natural beauty of the world helped renew my faith in a good God who has shown His care for humanity by providing the sublime beauty of nature, and by creating us,” Case said. “My composition seeks to communicate these ideas by borrowing some of the sounds of the Wheaton Woods, recreating them musically at certain key points in the piece.”

The day before the concert, the trio rehearsed the piece on the stage of Weber Theatre, with an audience of Case’s students on hand for the moment. Afterward, the students, Case and Professor of Religion Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus talked with the musicians about music and its spiritual resonances.