I strongly recommend listening to the recording before reading my notes. It’s very important to me that you, as a listener get the most personal experience with this piece, and let it establish a place for yourself before you start to explore it even more.
Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to work with the Lawrence University Wind Ensemble on a reading. I want to thank Dr. Mast for arranging the session, and members of the LU Wind Ensemble for their artistry during this reading. You all brought so much life to this please, thank you.
This piece is special to me because it was written during a difficult time in my life where I felt extremely isolated and had an intense longing to leave where I was and start over. At those times, I turn to literature and poetry to find meaning somewhere away from reality. I thought about a work by the Lebanese poet, Khalil Gibran, a poetic epic that neatly ties his entire world view, and lays it bare for the world to witness; his book of poems, The Prophet. Orphalese is the setting of this tremendous work, where a prophet is stranded from their home in a distant place, waiting for a ship to take them back. Interestingly enough, Orphalese is not a place that exists, but it is a place where a prophet teaches, a place of holy insight far away from us.
Orphalese is only briefly mentioned in the beginning, but I was left imagining what this place would look like. Where, in this world, could exist such a place where the people can truly recognize the prophet among them and listen to what they have to say? When all around me I hear words of hatred, pettiness, and a refusal to hear what anyone has to offer. Where could exist such a place, where an immigrant could arrive at some unknown place and be welcome to such a loving community and given the resources to learn and teach the people of that place what they know? Certainly not here, where the message is consistently becoming clearer, outsiders are not welcome.
It seems like the current land of the prophet is going to be in danger for a long time. As people sit down reading this, contemplating whether or not the decedents of their own lord and savior can be trusted to enter the country. The art, culture, education, social progress all need to be halted so that perhaps one day the magic can return to the mountains. The current mountains where water was turned into wine is now under fire, and so I must take refuge in the mountains of Orphalese, perhaps I can still find meaning there.