O Earth, O Stars

O Earth, O Stars2020-08-04T04:06:11+00:00

Project Description

Flute, Cello, and Wind Ensemble
40 min.

Buy Score and Parts


Listen Now

Illinois State University, Stephen Steele, cond., Kimberly McCoul Risinger, Flute, Adriana Ransom, Cello.
On the album O Earth, O Stars (2010)

See Available Commercial Recordings

Preview Score


Solo Fl Solo Vcl | Fl-2(2»Picc) Ob-2 BbCl-2 BCl CbCl Bsn-2 SSx ASx | Hn-2 Tpt-2 Tbn-2 Euph Tuba DB | Hp Pno Timp Perc-5

  • Solo Flute
  • Solo Cello
  • Flute (2) (2 doubles Piccolo)
  • Oboe (2)
  • Clarinet in B♭ (2)
  • Bass Clarinet in B♭
  • Contrabass Clarinet in B♭
  • Bassoon (2)
  • Soprano Saxophone
  • Alto Saxophone
  • Horn in F (2)
  • Trumpet in B♭ (2)
  • Trombone (2)
  • Euphonium
  • Tuba
  • Double Bass
  • Harp
  • Piano
  • Timpani
  • Required Percussion (5 players)
    • Vibraphone
    • Chimes
    • Orchestra Bells
    • Xylophone
    • Crotales
    • Marimba
    • Tuned Gong (E)
    • Bass Drum (2)
    • Cabasa
    • Suspended Cymbal (2 lg)
    • Slapstick
    • Sleigh Bells
    • Triangle (sm)
    • Temple Blocks (5)
    • Tom-toms (1 sm, 4 med)
    • Hi-Hat
    • Tam-tam
    • Tenor Drum
For wind ensembles and concertos, please use one player per part. For symphonies and concert pieces, more players may be used as desired. David’s full statement.


  1. Chorale (Jesu, meine Freude)
  2. You are the image of the unending world (Jung)
  3. Sanctus (Chorale – Heilig, Heilig)
  4. Dragons and Devils of the Heart (Jung)
  5. O Earth, O Stars (Richard Beale)
  6. Chorale (Aus Tiefer Not)


O Earth, O Stars is a double concerto for flute and cello. It is in six relatively brief movements:

1. Chorale (Jesu, meine Freude)
2. You are the image of the unending world(Jung)
3. Sanctus (Chorale – Heilig, Heilig)
4. Dragons and Devils of the Heart (Jung)
5. O Earth, O Stars (Richard Beale)
This music is a transcription of a song for solo soprano from my Mass.
6. Chorale (Aus Tiefer Not)

The small instrumental ensemble consists of 20 winds and brass, double
bass, harp, piano, timpani, and five percussion.

Program Note

O Earth, O Stars is a double concerto for flute and cello. The music can stand on its own without any programmatic references, but I am strongly drawn to certain images and depths that are touched when the music relates to these images. Over the years I have been especially concerned with music that has grown out of the old Chorale melodies. The connections made between image or idea and music are complex. They resonate deeply and are not confined to a single set of interpretations. The six movements of this concerto, with chorales on either end, and one in the middle, give the impression of a Baroque cantata. The story being told is one you find for yourself.

  1. Chorale – The chorale melody, taken from the 371 Four-part Chorales by J. S. Bach, is “Jesu, meine Freude,” meaning “Jesus my joy,” or “Jesus my pleasure.” It is one of my favorite tunes which I have also used in Recitation Book for saxophone quartet, and Symphony No. 8.
  2. “You are the image of the unending world” – This line comes from The Red Book of Carl Jung. It relates in my mind to the Buddhist image of the “Pure Land,” which is about a returning of the earth to its original pristine balance. “You are the image of the unending world…” It is through each of us that the Pure Land is reborn.
  3. Sanctus – This movement grows out of the Chorale melody “Heilig, Heilig,” meaning “Holy, Holy,” which is the opening of the Sanctus from the Latin Mass: Sanctus Dominos Deus Sabbath: “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are filled with your glory. Hosanna in the highest.” Sanctus is a quiet, and sometimes whimsical, paean to the beauty and holiness of the living earth, and to all its creatures and plant life.
  4. Dragons and Devils of the Heart – a quote and a poem: 

    Carl Jung: “It is wise to nourish the soul, otherwise you breed dragons and devils in your heart.”

    A.A. Milne:
    Sometimes when the fights begin,
    I think I’ll let the dragons win,
    But then again perhaps I won’t,
    Because they’re dragons, and I don’t.

    The image of the dragon is fearful, and from the quote and the poem we have the feeling of a necessary struggle, and a requirement of victory over the dragon in order to be whole. But there are other images of the dragon: there protector of the priceless treasure; the guardian of the heart, which is the gateway of the Source. To “defeat” the dragon is to come into relationship with your own deepest power.

  5. O Earth, O Stars – is the song before the Agnus Dei in my setting of the Latin Mass. The text is one poem of the set entitled Hymn to Sofia, Holy Wisdom written by Richard Beale for the Mass project.

    O Earth, O Stars, who watch our pain and our joy,
    Lift us up that we may see our Mother once again.
    Together we live the only life there is.
    Music flows from our union.
    When the universe expands and contracts,
    It is the love we have for each other.
    It is one breath.

    Mother of womanly embrace,
    Wrap us in the womb
    Of your unending love.

    “Music flows from our union…” – the center of this concerto, and the center of life.

  6. Chorale – The melody which I have borrowed is Aus tiefer Not schrei Ich zu dir – From Deepest Need I Cry to You – the human condition, and knocking on the door of the Source for help; the transformation of the heart.

Program Note by David Maslanka

Further Reading

From the Maslanka Archive – No. 12, O Earth, O Stars With Kim Risinger and Adriana Ransom

19 March 2020|0 Comments

From the Maslanka Archive features media and stories of David's life and work. This week, we are excited to feature pictures from David's residency with Stephen K. Steele at Illinois State University prior to a concert featuring David's O Earth, O Stars performed by Kim Risinger (Flute), Adriana Ransom (Cello), and the Illinois State University Wind Symphony.