The Palace of Light
for solo piano (c.6')
The Palace of Light is the name given to a now disused underground public toilet in Glasgow's city centre which gained notoriety in the late 20th century for its association with the gay and bisexual men who met there and engaged in anonymous sexual acts with one another in it.
While this title comes primarily from the translucent ceiling slabs through which light shone in from the pavement above, it also provides a poignant metaphor for the persecution faced by its clientele: in a time when these men were not only shunned but criminalised by the society in which they lived, it comes as no surprise that this toilet - in spite of its less than salubrious nature - became a sanctuary to those who frequented it, and offered them light in the darkness they faced in their lives.
Written for and performed by Benjamin Powell as part of Psappha Ensemble's Composing for Piano scheme
St Michael's Ancoats, January 2017