As a companion piece to Victoria’s O Vos Omnes, I chose to set a beautiful text by the 14C Persian poet Hafiz. The text of O Vos Omnes is asking, simply, to be seen in a moment of sorrow — to be beheld through suffering and darkness. And Hafiz’s text responds in such a beautiful way — it moves through that darkness and begins to let those very first slivers of light in.
This piece is about that first moment of trust, of softening. About the most inward moments of the human experience, of realizing that ‘breakthroughs’ often don’t have the hard edge, the burst of energy that the word implies, but that they can be about finding tender, warm, deeply resonant spaces within ourselves as well.
NOTE on this version: I adapted my original work, When the Violin for choir and guitar quartet as part of a project with Conspirare and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. Of course, it seemed odd to still call it ‘When the Violin’, so with the permission of translator Daniel Ladinsky, we changed the text as well.
A recording of When the Guitar, with Conspirare and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet will be available soon.
In the meantime, please listen to the recording of When the Violin:
Can forgive the past
It starts singing.
When the guitar can stop worrying
About the future
You will become
Such a drunk laughing nuisance
Will then lean dow
And start combing you into
When the guitar can forgive
Every wound caused by
The heart starts
— Hafiz, The Gift (tr. Daniel Ladinsky)
Here is the original audio guide for When the Violin: