Still Point of The Turning World (2011)


A New Work for Piano, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello, Harp & Percussionist

About the piece

The title of the work comes from a line in the T.S. Eliot poem, “Burnt Norton” and is borrowed by philosopher and Eastern spirituality master, Alan Watts, to describe the Buddha’s position as the “axle point” on the Wheel of Life. He states, “Only in the middle position of man—the position of potential equanimity—can you free yourself from the wheel of existence and become a Buddha.”

That is not to say that this piece is meant in some way to be a prescription for spiritual enlightenment; but rather, it is meant to be a kind of linear, kaleidoscopic survey of the relationship between the inner realms of existence of the wheel and the outer band of ‘pre-conditions’ which, in various ways, determine your residence in the realms. In a way, the audience is sitting on the axle point of the piece.

Performance notes (so far)

Ceramic Pots- Two inexpensive ceramic pots of differing sizes are to be suspended by knotted rope or string. A conventional hammer should be used to break one of them into a cardboard box, positioned below. Where indicated to handle the pieces noisily in the box, obvious care should be given to ensure safety. Taking a couple of broken pieces and rubbing them together would achieve the same effect.  

Preconditions- The 12 little Precondition movements should all be treated as chamber ensemble pieces and with a high degree of individual character.

Sung/spoken Arabic- In the Human Realm, the chanting in Arabic is meant to be heard, or sensed, just below the volume level of the rest of the ensemble. The first invocation is pitched and the second one is not. The text comes from the Rachid Taha song, “Ya Raya”.

Continuity- The almost disparate nature of the materials in the preconditions is intended. As a result, careful attention should be given to the attaccas and pauses through the course of the piece, insuring smooth, convincing transitions.

What I have so far:

Mvt I. - HEAVEN REALM (in progress)

Click here to listen to a MIDI rendering