On the Mountains of Orphalese…

Wind Ensemble 2017

Performed by the Lawrence University Wind Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Andrew Mast. 

Duration: 7 min. 


Program Notes 


On the Mountains of Orphalese… 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, that neatly ties his entire worldview, 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 does not exist, but it is 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, violence, and a refusal to hear what anyone has to offer. Where could exist such a place, where an immigrant could arrive at some unknown location and be welcome to 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.

This is also to juxtapose the actual land of the prophet, the Middle Eastern mountains between Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. A hotbed of unrest in our world’s climate as people sit down reading this, contemplating whether or not the descendants of their own lord and savior can be trusted to enter the country. As anger is unleashed and the world is demanding that art, culture, education, and social progress all be halted while we wish that the magic can return to the mountains. Currently, the mountains where water was turned into wine are under fire; so I must take refuge on the mountains of Orphalese, perhaps I can still find meaning there.



2 Flutes doubles piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, 4 saxophones (AATB), 3 trumpets, 4 horns, 2 tenor trombones, bass trombone, euphonium, tuba, 4 percussion

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