wm300008 Newsom A Rumi for chorus and orchestra
for chorus and orchestra
2222 2221 timp satb strings
1 A Great Wagon
2 Solomon's crooked crown
3 Where everything is music/
4 Constant Converation
Composer's Notes for RUMI
While I was composing the MISSA BREVIS, we received a book of English translations of poems
by Rumi. I usually do not enjoy or appreciate poetry (much too concise and intense), but Rumi caught my attention and pulled me into his works. So, I decided to set some of the poems to music,as I had recently done with the Latin mass. I did get permission from the publisher and translator -a much easier process than I had anticipated.
RUMI is much in my style of repetitive, dark music spiraling in upon itself (as Andy Warhol once said: "I like being bored.") In the original composition, the order of movements was: A GREAT WAGON, followed by CONSTANT CONVERSATION segueing into SOLOMON'S CROOKED CROWN, and ending with WHERE EVERYTHING IS MUSIC, with a hint of ambiguity of whether or not the final key was Eflat major or c minor. The publisher suggested changing the order to the present configuration and making the ending more positive. I think his suggestions were wise in making the whole thing more listener friendly.
A GREAT WAGON is one of the few things I have written in a major key, and I think I did a pretty good job. Maybe I should try doing it some more. I like the almost jazzy vocal chords at the beginning.
SOLOMON'S CROOKED CROWN contains good advice: always check our own shoes for poop before complaining how bad everything smells. The opening rhythm in the women's voices is a form of the "nanny nanny boo boo" tattle tale rhythm we have all used so much in our own minds and hearts.
WHERE EVERYTHING IS MUSIC, etc...is yearning and accepting at the same time - we can't figure out what is best for us or even what we really want, we just have to fall into the arms of God and trust. One of the soprano themes from the first movement is reprised in this movement, bringing the beginning to the ending.
CONSTANT CONVERSATION starts with a long episode of canes swaying in the breeze before the voices ever come in with the words. The reeds beg for a kiss, the tambourine wants his skin touched, and no telling what the other instruments or performers are yearning for - maybe "don't ask, don't tell" is the best policy in this situation. After the main body of the movement, it goes back to the cane-swaying theme. A final triumphant ending brings the whole symphony to a close.
Jal l ad-D n Muammad R m (30 September 1207 17 December 1273), was a 13th-centur Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic. R m is a descriptive name meaning "the Roman" since he lived most of his life in an area called R m because it was once ruled by the Eastern Roman Empire. He lived most of his life under the Sultanate of Rum, where he produced his works and died in 1273 AD. He was buried in Konya and his shrine became a place of pilgrimage. Following his death, his followers and his son Sultan Walad founded the Mawlaw yah Sufi Order, also known as the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, famous for its Sufi dance known as the sam ceremony.
Rumi's works are written in the New Persian language. A Persian literary renaissance (in the 8th/9th century) started in regions of Sistan, Khor s n and Transoxiana and by the 10th/11th century, it reinforced the Persian language as the preferred literary and cultural language in the Persian Islamic world. Rumi's importance is considered to transcend national and ethnic borders. His original works are widely read in their original language across the Persian-speaking world. Translations of his works are very popular in other countries. His poetry has influenced Persian literature as well as Urdu, Punjabi and other Pakistani languages written in Perso/Arabic script e.g. Pashto and Sindhi. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world's languages and transposed into various formats. In 2007, he was described as the "most popular poet in America." (The above two paragraphs are taken from the WIKIPEDIA entry on Rumi)
I like many forms and styles of music, and my favorite way of listening to music is lying on the floor with earphones on and lights out. When I do this, it is usually while listening to dark, repetitive music, and so it turns out the music that I write tends to be dark and repetitive. In fact, I write music with the intention of it being listened to by solitary listeners with earphones on and lights out, rather than as being performed live in a hall with an audience (I think it would bore the audience to death, in fact). Another aspect of my compositions is the tendency to end quietly, almost fading away. I am not sure why I do that - maybe it has something to do with the expanding universe ending in cold inertness (or is it too haughty of me to think I am that attuned to the universe?).
Overall, I am quite pleased with the way the whole thing turned out. I am also immensely appreciative of John Webber for typesetting it and making it available for others online. He patiently puts in a lot of work on my music.
Br. Abraham Newsom St. Gregory's Abbey