I. Song: “Fire in the Earth”
Walking through a Montana field on a brilliant late fall day, three images came in rapid succession: a distant row of red plant stems caught by the morning sun, snow on the surrounding high mountains, green grass at my feet. The following poetic image came:
Fire in the earth
Snow in the heavens
New green grass in the middle of November
This is a quiet, emotional music – sometimes not so quiet – contained by a very simple song form.
II. Interlude: “Bright Window, Your Night is Full of Stars”
“Bright Window” is the soprano song right before the Credo in my “Mass.” I have transcribed it whole as a beautiful song for the solo saxophone. The words of the original song reach out in prayer to the Holy Mother and ask for a personal connection with all that is. This music is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Christensen, Director of Bands at Iowa State University, whose untimely death was a shock to his many friends.
III. Song: “Dear Jesus, what have you DONE?!”
This music grows out of the chorale “Herzliebste Jesu, was hast du verbrocken” (“Dearest Jesus, what law did you break”). The chorale is the starting point for a huge upsurge of powerful emotion, cresting with the climax of the “Crucifixus” from the “Mass.” Dear Jesus, what have you done to get yourself crucified?…And then you drag the rest of us up there with you!!
IV. Interlude: “Starry Night”
“Starry Night” is not a quiet night! There is both mystery and playfulness in this music, and playfulness finally wins out, erupting into an extended dance episode with a very Baroque feel. Of all the movements, this one is most nearly a scherzo.
V. Song: “Mortal, have you seen this?”
In the Book of Ezekiel, the prophet has a vision of a man “whose appearance shone like bronze.” The “Bronze Man” shows him the Holy City. He then leads him into a deep and very wide river that cannot be crossed, and says “Mortal, have you seen this?” Where the river enters the sea the water becomes fresh; everything will live where the river goes; trees along the river will not wither, their fruit will be for food, their leaves for healing.
This movement is an echo of the third. It opens and closes with what has been called the “coronation” music from my composition “Hell’s Gate” – in this case played very softly and inwardly.
Program note by David Maslanka