Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sound that is unlimited, uncreated and immeasurable

I aspire to a future in which the deepest level of personality known to human beings, the radiant, still point beyond words, is encouraged by music to become manifest.
That is Jonathan Harvey writing in his exploration of music and spirituality In Quest of Spirit. The new Albany CD of his chamber music from the New York New Music Ensemble includes Cirrus Light. This is one of three works that Jonathan composed in the last year of his life when suffering from motor neurone disease, and his programme note explains how it was inspired by the "the long hours sitting in my wheelchair gazing at the summer sky". Cirrus Light lasts for just six minutes and is scored for solo clarinet. The programme note also describes how: "The cirrus clouds, which are so high, well formed and slow changing, were often illuminated by a beautiful light. The clarinet searches the sky for them". Jonathan drew inspiration and consolation from Buddhism, and Ajahn Sumedho, a teacher in the Thai Forest Buddhist tradition, speaks of using the word 'God' not as a theological expression, but as "a pointer to the unlimited, the uncreated and the immeasurable". Cirrus Light takes us beyond music into pure sound; it is not just the clarinet that is searching, but it is also the composer who is drawing closer to that radiant still point beyond words - to the unlimited, the uncreated and the immeasurable. Ineffable music and radiant performances. Hear or remain in darkness.

Albany Records' website offers a thirty second sample from Cirrus Light, while The Riot from the new CD can be heard complete on YouTube. Ajahn Sumedho quote is from the anthology of his teachings Don't Take Your Life Personally. No review samples were used in this post. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for the purpose of critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.


billoo said...

Following on from your last post: I wonder what Jonathan Harvey would have said about the Rohingya.



Pliable said...

Background on Rohingya -

Their cause is, alas, not as fashionable some of those that have featured in very recent posts. The failure of Burmese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi to speak out on the plight of the Rohingya is another lamentable example of selective activism.