AKSHAYA AVRIL TUCKER
Premiered by Density512, at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, TX on Feb 24, 2019. Commissioned by Density512 for "Symphony of Proverbs".
For Baritone Soloist, Choir and Winds.
Picc., Fl(2), Ob(2), EH, Bb Cl(2), Bass Cl, Bsn(2), Bb Tpt(2), F Hn(3), Tbn(2), Bass Tbn, Tba, Double Bass, Baritone Soloist, SATB Choir (SSAATTBB minimum).
"There will always be a way back to your true self."
In ancient times, an unscrupulous highwayman roamed the forest roads of India. On one occasion, he even accosted the great sage Narada. Narada was able to calm him, asking him if he was ready to experience the karma (results) of his awful actions. The robber realized he would have to face all of it alone. He became desperate, and pleaded with Narada for help. Narada told him to repeat the divine name "Rama," but the highwayman couldn't even pronounce those sounds. Taking pity on the man, Narada pointed at a nearby tree and said, "what's that?" "Aa-mara?" That tree? he responded in Sanskrit. "And this?" Narada said. "I-mara?" this tree? Eventually, by repeating a-mara, i-mara, a-mara, i-mara, this tree, that tree, thistreethattree, his lips learned how to say "Rama, Rama, Rama." Valmiki, the former highwayman, became the first poet of Sanskrit literature. The epic Ramayana is attributed to him.
A-mara, a musical episode, illustrates what this scene in sound. I love the surrealism of it -- how any words might have guided him to "Rama"! It reminds me of a wonderful quote by Franz Kafka: "There are some things one can only achieve by a deliberate leap in the opposite direction." This happens in the creative process, no? We never stumble on the perfect form immediately. Some random thing enters our minds and becomes more and more real - more divine - as it modulates in our hands. To me, an abstract spirituality guides this process. It will always be there for us, no matter how corrupt or broken we think we've become.