‘in seven points’ (2018) 7'
For string quartet.
Premiered at the Curtis Institute of Music, 5/4/18 . Self-published (Morningside Press, ASCAP).
‘in seven points’ is titled after a Tibetan Buddhist “mind-training” practice called lojong. Practitioners of lojong meditate on a set of aphorisms designed to purify their motivations and attitudes, helping them to see truth. I once saw a translation of the original lojong text—a 12th century work by Chekawa Yeshe Dorje—that rendered its title as “Training the Mind in Seven Points.” I was immediately taken by that turn of phrase, in part because I love the idea that our minds can be trained, as if we were simply fine-tuning its instruments in order to better receive the signals of some fundamental truth. I love even more the notion that there’s a neatly packaged seven-step program waiting out there that might lead us all to enlightenment. This music is slow, contemplative, and otherworldly, leaning at first on sul ponticello timbres and strangely colored resonances to paint the sounds of some foreign plane of existence. As the piece continues, the music warms and refines itself, and we eventually hear the echoes of a much more familiar human tunefulness.