Detroit musician and composer Marcus Elliot talks turning grief into a work of art

Watch the saxophonist and composer perform “Fill The Room With Light” with New Music Detroit at the Orchestra Hall.

Marcus Elliot

Last year, saxophonist and composer Marcus Elliot premiered a new composition “Fill The Room With Light.” 

A collection of musicians under the banner New Music Detroit commissioned Elliot to write it for their annual festival at Orchestra Hall. 

That’s a huge opportunity for any working artist — full creative control and a budget to work with.

And it came at a time when Elliot was experiencing a lot of new chapters in his life — a new house, a new kid, a new family.

At the same time, he was saying farewell to his father Anthony Charles Miller II, who suffered a stroke in 2017 and moved into hospice at the same time Elliot was writing his new composition, all while taking care of his young family. 

Elliot shared the story behind how he created “Fill The Room With Light” with CultureShift’s Ryan Patrick Hooper. Throughout the audio interview (listen above), you’ll hear selections from the composition, and can watch a video of the full performance below.

Special thanks to Marcus Elliot, New Music Detroit, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for sharing this performance with WDET. The video was produced by Andrew Alden at Obscura Broadcasting Company. The audio mix was done by Haruki Hakoyama.

Related: Detroit duo releases vulnerable new album, ‘Conjure’

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  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.