Five short movements for full orchestra, reflecting on varieties of spiritual experience.

full orchestra / 25 min.

Rent Score and Parts»

Program Note

My Sinfonietta captures moments of spiritual experience, 21st century music inspired by the 14th century Sufi mystic Hafez – vignettes of hilarity, wonder, confusion,  clamor.  It was a chance encounter with a translation of Hafez’s poetry that gave me the image of a work of short movements built around arresting images and extreme emotions – some inspired directly by Hafez and some simply drawing on a lifetime of reading and meditation.  There are diverse musical influences here.  The title is a nod to Leos Janacek’s exhilarating eponymous work; some musical concepts are borrowed from Olivier Messiaen; the final movement reflects my recent studies of gugak, traditional Korean music.

Over the work I have placed an epigram from the Hafez translation by Daniel Ladinsky: “Have fun, my dear; my dear, have fun in in the Beloved’s divine game.”  The second and fourth movements borrow specific images from Hafez: “Planets Dance” was suggested by a poem about being as deliriously happy as the rest of creation – even the planets – but at risk of being locked up in an asylum; “The Lantern” springs from a wondrous image of a lantern with galaxies blooming inside it.  The title of the third movement, “Tuned with Love,” is also borrowed from Ladinsky.  “Tal Nori,” the title of the last movement, means “mask dance” in Korean, and was inspired by a performance seen in Andong.

My Sinfonietta was commissioned jointly by the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Dale Frehse, Toos Daruvala, Honey Kurtz, Phyllis Mills, and Steven Stamas.  The premiere took place January 14, 2017, in Sioux Falls, SD.  The West Virginia Symphony premiered a revised version on May 2018.

The movements:

  1. Awakening
  2. Planets Dance
  3. Tuned with Love
  4. The Lantern
  5. Tal Nori