for violin and piano(2018)
1. A Dream2. A Phantom3. A Drop of Dew4. A Flash of Lightning
|Commission||Commissioned by Arco Collaborative, Inc. with the generous support of Augusta Gross and Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting|
|Premiere||March 31, 2018; National Sawdust, New York City, NY; Jennifer Koh, violin • Vijay Iyer, piano|
In The Diamond Sutra, an early Buddhist text also known as The Diamond that Cuts Through Illusion, the Buddha leads his interlocutor, the Elder Subhuti, through a series of questions and provocations. The Buddha then concludes the session by offering this teaching to those assembled:
All composed things are like a dream,
a phantom, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning.
That is how to meditate on them;
that is how to observe them.
This duo piece is in four sections, corresponding roughly to these four disparate visions of impermanence: four distinct moments of interplay between form and emptiness, four corners of a diamond. This series of images is itself a “composed thing,” gathering dissimilar elements into a unified system. It suggests that the things we make are similar to things that exist beyond intention. The Buddha’s utterance helps us hear so-called “composition” and “improvisation” – or the encompassing category, “music” – as part of an even larger aggregate: that which forms and recedes.