solo mezzo-soprano, solo baritone and 2(picc)2(EH)2(bcl)2(Cbsn)/2210/2 percussion/harp/strings
First performance by Sasha Cooke, solo mezzo-soprano; Nathan Gunn, solo Baritone; and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra; Carnegie Hall, New York, 11 October 2012
Duration: 30 minutes
Written across 1,285 years (701 1983) representing 10 countries, the texts are by these poets:
Khalil Gibran (1883 1931) ARABIA
Amy Lowell (1874 - May 12, 1925) USA
Sri Aurobindo (Bengali: Sri Ôrobindo) (18721950) INDIA
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (30 September 1207 1273) PERSIA
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 1900) GERMANY
William Wordsworth (1770 1850) UK
Gérard de Nerval (1808-1855) FRANCE
Wang Wei (701761) CHINA
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (1830 1886) USA
Uvavnuk an Inuit (Netsilik or Iglooik Eskimo) female shaman, 19th century CANADA
Matsuo Basho (1644 1694) JAPAN
Li Po (China, 701-762) CHINA
Thomas Lanier "Tennessee" Williams III (1911 1983) USA
Li Shang-Yin (ca. 813858) CHINA
MOVEMENT #1: flower of our heart
The soul unfolds itself like a lotus of countless petals.
Life is a stream
On which we strew
Petal by petal the flower of our heart;
And the stream as it flows
Sweeps them away,
Each one gone
Ever beyond into infinite ways.
We alone stay
While years hurry on,
The flower fared forth, though its fragrance still stays.
— Amy Lowell
MOVEMENT #2: dancing flowers
There is a Wisdom like a brooding Sun,
A Bliss in the heart's crypt grown fiery white,
The heart of a world in which all hearts are one.
— Sri Aurobindo
Open the window in the center of your heart
and let the spirits fly in and out.
—seeks deep, deep eternity!
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Also sprach Zarathustra: the "Midnight Song"
(used by Maher in the fourth movement of SYMPHONY #3)
A host, of golden daffodils;
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
Continuous as the stars that shine
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
— William Wordsworth
Every flower is a soul blossoming
— Gerard de Nerval
MOVEMENT #3: earth blossoms
The dear earth everywhere
Blossoms in spring and grows green again!
Everywhere and eternally the distance shines bright
— Wang Wei/ Mahler
(used by Mahler in DAS LIED VON DER ERDE)
Of their peculiar light
I keep one ray
To clarify the Sight
To seek them by —
— Emily Dickinson
Earth and her strong winds
move me, take me away,
and my soul is swept up in joy.
— Uvavnuk (Iglulik Eskimo, 19th c.)
MOVEMENT #4: petal waterfall
petals of tiny flowers drop
a waterfall of sound
How many years since these valley flowers bloomed
To smile in the sun?
Whoever looks on this,
Loses himself in eternity.
— Li Po (China, 701-762)
butterflies and birds
restlessly they rise up
a cloud of flowers
Oh! To be a flower
Nodding in the sun,
Bending, then upspringing
As the breezes run;
A scent-brimmed cup,
Full of summer's fragrance to the summer sun.
Oh! To be a butterfly
Still, upon a flower,
Winking with its painted wings,
Happy in the hour.
Mines of gold
Deep within the farthest heart of each chaliced flower.
— Amy Lowell
MOVEMENT #5: mountain with violets
The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.
— Li Po
The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.
— Tennessee Williams
MOVEMENT #6: earth echoes
We hear all past and future in one stroke of the temple bell.
— Li Shang-Yin
The temple bell stops
but the sound keeps coming
out of the flowers
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Augusta Read Thomas's works, please contact G. Schirmer Inc..