Christopher Anderson-Bazzoli
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PRAYER OF THE HELIOTROPE

MEDIA:

Composer's program note:
...the heliotrope follows in its movement the movement of the sun...and in its rotation, if we could hear the sound of the air buffeted by its movement, we should be aware that it is a hymn to its king, such as it is within the power of a plant to sing. - Proclus
I came across the above quote in Henry Corbin's book Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi. In the chapter titled “Prayer of the Heliotrope,” the author compares the mystic Sufi saint Ibn Arabi's desire to know God with the flower's natural inclination to turn and face the sun – the energy source that gives it life. For me “the sound of the air buffeted by [the heliotrope's] movement” suggested active percussion music that evolved slowly and with singular purpose – from the “earthy” sounds of wood (marimba, woodblock, shakers) to the “celestial” sounds of metal (vibraphone, cymbal, triangle). The resulting work is divided into three sections portraying the heliotrope's journey: activity in the soil, a violent break of the earth's surface, and turning toward the light. The ethereal, airy gesture that opens and closes the piece represents the omnipresence of the sun, who watches over the activity with detachment. The work was composed for, and is dedicated to, two excellent percussionists and long-time friends: Aaron Smith and Ken McGrath.

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