Divine Cloud That We Share
a trio for oboe, clarinet, and piano
- YEAR: 2022
- DURATION: 6-7 minutes
- COMMISSIONED BY: Jason Shafer, Ian Wisekal, Josh Sawicki
An interweaving of souls,
Arms at the service of breath,
A sort of wings
Present in our embraces,
Holding the flesh of the air
Life in suspense,
That we share
In a quiet bliss.
(from December 8th entry, Everyday Prayers
by Luce Irigaray, 1997)
For this new trio for oboe, clarinet, and piano, I am taking inspiration from French feminist philosopher, Luce Irigaray, whose ontological writings on breath give insight to how the COVID pandemic has impacted how we see our selves and see our community.
In Irigaray’s 1999 book Between East and West: From Singularity to Community, she writes, “The forgetting of breathing in our tradition is almost universal. And it has led to a separation in us between the vital breath and the divine breath, between body and soul.” If we had not been aware of the air being both the means of personal and communal survival, we surely became more aware of this in the act of wearing masks.
Irigaray’s comment touches on both the physical aspect of breathing and its spiritual significance. Music making is also physical and spiritual, and demonstrates a uniting of vital breath and divine breath as the inward action of breathing through an instrument, in this case the oboe and clarinet, becomes an external sound to be heard. Not to be forgotten, sound waves travel through the medium of air, heard but not seen.
I like the confluence of these ideas of air, breathing, sound, and music’s divine mystery.
July 28, 2022
International Double Reed Society Conference,
University of Colorado