In 800 years, all the actual details of the life of St. Francis have faded to white, and there has emerged St. Francis the icon of childlike gentleness, the little flower, the one who talks to the birds and the animals, who has a brother sun and a sister moon. However, under this benign and smiling image lies the true nature: the fierce and unshakable determination to imitate the way and being of Christ as closely as possible: radical poverty, physical abasement, following the vision of the Holy Mother, complete dependence on the perceived will of God – to the extent that the stigmata of Christ appeared spontaneously on his body, and he was said to have ascended into the air while praying.
Why St. Francis as the subject of this piece of music?
Some years ago I had a dream of St. Francis. It began with me being in the presence of a metal object that looked vaguely human in form, but was thousands of degrees hot. Touching it would be fatal … I touched it! It changed into the figure of St. Francis dressed as a Chinese peasant. Holding his hands on either side were an African and an Asian child. For me this was an indication for my life path of opening the lives of young people through music. Larry Gookin has had a long-time fascination with St. Francis, and he and Karen have visited Assisi and communed with that spirit. The heated compassion of St. Francis is mirrored in Larry’s lifelong devotion to the movement of young lives through music. This new piece is a tribute to Larry’s devotion. It is both a summation and an open door to the future.
Program note by David Maslanka (May 2015)