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Ma-Um

For a female vocalist and 12 musicians, separated into groups of four. (1990)

In memorian Luigi Nono.

Commissioned by the Graz Chamber of Employees. Premiered on October 6th 1990 in Graz; Susanne Otto, mezzo soprano; Ensemble Modern; Hans Zender, musical director.

The title, MA-UM, can mean heart, mind, spirit, or soul. I used the mystical poetry of Angelus Silesius, which evokes ancient Taoist and Zen-Buddhist verses, as a motto for the composition. It is followed by a segment of heterophonic music.

Younghi Pagh Paan


 

1.       

Hold on, where are you headed? Heaven is inside of you;

When you look for God in other places, you fail him through and through

 

Angelus Silesius (1624-1677); from “The Cherubic Wanderer”

 

2.        

My Heart/torn out - taken out

The Moon/forming - wanting

Ninety thousand Li (away)/endless deep Sky

Sincerely (full of glory)/hung - in places

My love/Being there – getting there

Shining (glowing)/wanting

 

Chung-Chul (1537-1594, poet and statesman); translated from Old Korean by Younghi Pagh-Paan. (English translation by Alexandra Schulz)

 

3.        

The band of countless stars

Glittering in the night.

A lonely cliff shining in the light.

The moon has not yet sunk,

A mighty glowing sphere

Made of rough jasper

High up in the nightly sky.

That is where my mind lies.

(Translation by Alexandra Schulz)

 

4.            

Where’s the trail to Cold Mountain?

Cold Mountain? There’s no clear way.

Ice, in summer, is still frozen.

Bright sun shines through thick fog.

You won’t get there following me.

Your heart and mine are not the same.

If your heart was like mine,

You’d have made it, and be there!

            (Translation by A.S. Kline)

 

Han-Shan (Zen-Bhuddist poet)



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