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.
Can forgive the past
It starts singing.
When the violin 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 violin can forgive
Every wound caused by
The heart starts
— Hafiz, The Gift (tr. Daniel Ladinsky)
The 9-voice + violin version of this work was premiered by Street Symphony Chamber Singers and Vijay Gupta at Mercado La Paloma on March 8, 2020.