Starry Messenger

Composed by Z. Randall Stroope
Voicing: SSAA
Instrumentation: tambourine and finger cymbals
Catalog number: AMP 1035
Price: $2.10

About the work...

Sidereus Nuncius – an astronomical treatise (and an advertisement by Galileo to promote his work) - was published in 1610. Below is the title page in translation:

Sidereus Nuncius
of Galileo Galilei

Unfolding great and very wonderful sights
and displaying to the gaze of everyone,
but especially philosophers and astronomers,
the things that were observed by
Florentine patrician
and public mathematician of the University of Padua,
With the aid of the telescope which he recently devised,
the face of the moon, innumerable fixed stars,
and the Milky Way, cloudless stars,
but especially concerning
four planets
revolving around the star of Jupiter with unequal intervals
and periods, with wonderful swiftness,
which, known to no one up to this day,
the Author most recently discovered it for the first time,
and determined to name the

Performance note...
The finger cymbals are a central component of this work. Each of the four section leaders (SSAA) need to have a set of solid brass finger cymbals (symphony quality). Also, there needs to be another 4 sets of finger cymbals (can be inexpensive, classroom quality) in each section. Of course, this is dependent on the size of the chorus, where smaller ensembles might employ fewer finger cymbals. All finger cymbals need to be specially distributed in a fairly equidistant pattern across the choir. The use of finger cymbals is notated in the score. The dotted half note or whole note notation is not to be taken literally, but simply as an indication that the finger cymbals are to be played on those measures, prominently and randomly (in multiple rhythmic patterns). The finger cymbals are the sonic representation of infinite twinkling stars across a vast universe. The singers should hold the finger cymbals up to the upper chest or neck level, so that the sound of the finger cymbals will not be absorbed into the singer in front, as well as having a very interesting visual effect from the standpoint of the audience. Falsetto sound, principally carried by Tenor 2 is critical to the sonic landscape, and is arguably the more important line when this occurs, surrounded by moving voices. Keep the falsetto bright, ringing (not breathy), and cutting through the texture.

Z.Randall Stroope

About the composer...
Z. Randall Stroope is an American composer, conductor and university professor. His composition teachers were Normand Lockwood and Cecil Effinger, both students of Nadia Boulanger, the famous French teacher (and student of Gabriel Faure.) He is the artistic director of international summer music festivals in Rome and Barcelona, as well annually conducting at Carnegie Hall (New York), Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.), Chicago's Orchestra Hall, and other U.S. and international venues. He has over 135 published musical works and has received numerous composition awards. Recordings of his music can be heard on his web site (, publisher websites, or definitive recordings he has made of his works for youtube (Z. Randall Stroope, conductor and composer).

About Galileo:
Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa (then part of the Duchy of Florence, Italy) on 15 February 1564. His father was a famous lute player, theorist and composer. After considering the vocation of priesthood, Galileo decided to enroll at the University of Pisa for a medical degree. Yet, early in his studies, he chose instead to concentrate on mathematics and natural philosophy. He invented the thermoscope (forerunner of the thermometer), and at just 18 years of age, published a small book on the design of a hydrostatic balance. Eventually, he became the chair of mathematics in Pisa when he was 27. Galileo was an avid inventor, philosopher, mathematician and astronomer. As such, he was destined to become at odds with the church that believed that the universe to be geocentric (revolved around the earth.) Galileo firmly believed that the universe - including the earth revolved around the sun.

One of Galileo's inventions was the telescope. It magnified objects 20 times, allowing him to look at the moon, discover four satellites of Jupiter, verify the phases of Venus, discover sunspots and observe a supernova. In 1610 he wrote an astronomical treatise based on observations he made with his telescope, entitled Sidereus Nuncius (transl. “Starry Messenger” or “Starry Message”) which is the basis for the text of this musical work.

Z. Randall Stroope

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