Posted By kerryturner on June 10, 2010
Back in March, I was commissioned by the U.S. Armed Forces Band in Europe to compose a piece for their woodwind quintet and brass quintet. Each of these quintets maintains a rather busy touring schedule around Europe. And from time to time, they perform together on the same concert. The trouble is, there isn’t very much repertoire for combined woodwind and brass quintets. So they contacted me with this commission.
As is my habit, I made my way to a hotel in some other city for the sheer purpose of composing this new piece. This time it was Brussels. And as the motives and ideas began to unfold, it became clear this this work was going to be based on an American Indian theme. Perusing various book stores in Brussels, I came upon a book of Native American mandalas, a Sanskrit word that means “circle”. In the Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions, their sacred art often takes a mandala form. But Native American spiritualism has adopted their own style of mandalas, which are often a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. Each gate is in the shape of a T. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of aspirants and adepts, as a spiritual teaching tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation and trance induction.
Well, given all of this, the piece is not nearly as deep and intense as one may assume. I merely used the idea of a mandala diagram, one from the Navajo tribe to be exact, as a focus point for the creative process of the piece. The music describes the intricate symbols, drawings and symmetry on the mandala.
The combined quintets have done a super job in preparing the new work for performance. I drove to the base where they are stationed. This band, by the way, is the descendant of the famous Glenn Miller band during WWII. And we had a small adjustment and coaching session. And now the group has taken the piece on the road. Here is a list of the locations where “The Navajo Mandala” is being performed.
All of these places are in Denmark:
7 June 1930hrs – Nordkraft, Aalborg
8 June 1930hrs – Viborg Cathedral, Viborg
9 June 1800hrs – Kastellet, Copenhagen
10 June 1730hrs – Faelledparken, Copenhagen
11 June 1930hrs – Lynghojskolen, Svogerslev, Roskilde