Dreams of Turbulent Rain
SATB (2014) 5'30"
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In my first collaboration with Jide Nezaj, Violent Waters, I was commissioned for a charity concert titled Kiss the Stars Goodnight: A Concert for Human Trafficking Awareness. The work was heavy in content, and the music reflected that with thick textures and disjunct homophony. In our second collaboration, we consider the emotional state of mixed race peoples in cultures unaccepting of them. I borrow the same timbres and sound worlds from our first work together to create a new experience for the listener.
Treading through dry land, I dream of turbulent rain
to wash out confusion and pain.
Drench my feet into the Earth to feel, to belong.
Like a rock on the seabed never reaching the shore
like a fish tossed above the heavens
displaced; like a frozen stream, defeated.
Like a mango covered in snow, how will it’s beauty be told?
Like an olive tree planted in sand, how will it grow?
I open my eyes and all I see, mixed races all staring at me
yet I dream of distant sounds
SATB (2013) 3'30"
It would seem that the most courageous and cowardly thing is suicide. The power to end your life can be a semblance of control in a world where there is no love left for you to live. In the poem Violent Waters, Meg Nezaj captures the incomparable loss of emotional purpose; a woman, striped of her world, trapped in every sense of the word and under the blessing of a starlit sky forces her own freedom.
In this setting, with close harmonies and static melodic structures, I hope to create a harmonic palette that best reflects the intentions of the poem. The hope of escape through death is presented with growth and development melodically with each part as well as harmonically in the whole. As the prospect of suicide becomes real, a sense of hope pervades the text of the final stanza, and invites the audience to embrace the speaker's experience.
My life so dim, I no longer sing.
Serving a family, not my own
In this strange foreign land.
Recruited as a maid, treated as a slave
Brutal beatings outnumber my pay,
I'm voiceless without a name!
My life in the open sea,
Dark sharks encircle me.
I think of my hungry children
So I keep my head up; carry on.
Waves high enough to wipe me away
Yet I'm still here, day after day!
Desperate and unprotected
Exhausted in violent waters,
I thank the sun who dried my tears
And kiss the stars goodnight,
There is no other way out
I take my last breath here!
-Meg Jide Nezaj
...TAKE REFUGE IN AMIDA...
SATB AND VIBRAPHONE (2013) 7'10"
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…take refuge in Amida… is a text that is taken from Jodo wasan 39 by Gotoku Shinran. In Buddhism, a series of chants are sung in a service all in a row, varying in styles and in meaning. This Jodo wasan verse is special because it is one of the very few that mention music in such beautiful and vivid poetry. The text is presented in the score as a transliteration, the translation followed by a repeat of the transliteration.
From Jodowasan #39 – by Shinran Shonin (親鸞聖人) (1173-1263)
宝林 宝樹 懲妙音/Delicate sounds of the jeweled trees in the jeweled forest
自然 諸和の伎楽にて/Pronounce natural music, serene and consonant
哀婉雅亮すぐれたり/Excellent are the pathos, grace, elegance and resonance
渚淨楽帰命せよ/Take refuge in Pure Music
The delicate, wondrous sounds of the jeweled trees
are naturally pure and harmonious music.
Unexcelled in subtlety and elegance.
So take refuge in Amida, the music of purity
SATB (2011) 3'30"
This piece’s text is taken from two poems: the first stanza of a poem by Sōtō Zen Buddhist monk Ryōkan Taigu (良寛大愚) (1758–1831) and the poem it was based on by Buddhist priest and poet Sami Mansei (沙弥満誓) (c. 680–740). The texts explore Buddhist philosophies through metaphor, and encourage contemplation on the analogies.
This piece is dedicated to the victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Yamabiko was premiered by Los Robles Master Chorale in Thousand Oaks, CA on the one year anniversary of the tsunami, March 11, 2012.
Excerpt from Untitled (based on a poem by Sami Mansei)
by Ryōkan Taigu (良寛大愚) (1758–1831)
Original Script (Poetic Translation)
世の中は (Our life in this world)
何にたとへん (to what shall I compare it?)
山彦の (It is like an echo)
こたふる聲の (resounding through the mountains)
空しきがごと (and off into an empty sky.)
from Man'yōshū (万葉集 “Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves”)
by Sami Mansei (沙弥満誓) (c. 680–740)
Man'yōgana (Poetic Translation)
世間乎 (Living in this world)
何物尓将譬 (to what shall I compare it?)
旦開 (It is like a boat)
榜去師船之 (rowing out at break of day)
跡無如 (leaving no trace behind.)
LOVE IS ENOUGH
SATB (2009) 2'30"
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Love is Enough by William Morris
Love is enough: though the world be a-waning,
And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
Though the skies be too dark for dim eyes to discover
The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder,
And this day draw a veil over all deeds passed over,
Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter:
The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter
These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover.