Jesus in the Shade of the Bodhi Tree

This piece was recorded in the Owen Hall Recording Studio in the Spring of 2019. A plethora of instrumental techniques were captured spanning all of the orchestral families. After tracking was completed, samples were chosen from the recorded materials and sequenced to form a linear composition. In the piece the recording studio becomes a vehicle for orchestration.

An in depth essay about the piece’s conception, recording, and composition is available on the writings page.

Performers

Andrew Lu – Flute

Alelih Galvadores – Oboe

Scott Pastor – Clarinet

Arturo Garcia – Bass Clarinet

Mitchell Beck – Tenor Saxophone

Sam Berris – Bassoon

Braydon Ross – French Horn

Thomas Hubel – Trumpet

Felix Contreras Diaz – Trombone

Robert Huntington – Tuba

Tyler Golding – Glockenspiel, Crotales, Marimba, Vibraphone, Xylophone, and Timpani

Micah Vogel – Violin

Krista Swenson – Viola

Malcolm King – Cello

Antonio Sarzi – Contrabass

Kevin Swenson – Voice and Piano

Recording Engineered and Produced by Kevin Swenson

String Quartet no. 2 – “The Void”

This piece was inspired by the 36th koan listed in Nyogen Senzaki’s collection of 100 Zen Koans, The Iron Flute. 1It reads:

36. Where to Meet After Death

Tao-wu paid a visit to his sick brother monk, Yun-yen. “Where can I see you again, if you die and leave only your corpse here?” asked the visitor. “I will meet you in the place where nothing is born and nothing dies,” answered the sick monk. Tao-wu was not satisfied with the answer and said, “What you should say is that there is no place in which nothing is born and nothing dies, and that we need not see each other at all.”

When I first read this koan I was immediately fascinated with the concept of “the place where nothing is born and nothing dies.” I believe it boils down to a single word: the void. However contradictory to Yun-yen’s statement it may be, Tao-wu’s insistence that there is no such place also suggests a certain idea of something void. Simply put, the phrase is what brought about the initial inspiration regardless of philosophical interpretation.

As a result the concept of the void is entertained throughout the piece by the sustaining of single harmonies for long periods of time. At times, particularly during the middle of the piece, this sustenance is masked by a higher level of rhythmic activity and timbral transformation. Silence is also used as a means of illustrating a sense of the void. In light of this conceptualization it is my sincerest hope that listeners might enter a reflective, even meditative state of mind by experiencing the piece.

1Senzaki, Nyogen, The Iron Flute: 100 Zen Koans Tuttle Publishing. 2000.

For detailed information about the scordatura tuning used in the piece see the document hosted at this link.

Performers

Micah Vogel, Sabrina Boggs – Violin

Krista Swenson – Viola

Malcolm King – Cello