In the Very Highest Place 【最高之處】
– Janet Danielson (2006), lyrics by Wu Li (1632-1718)
Orchid Ensemble commission, with funding from the British Columbia Arts Council
“Musical tones have their origins in the human mind, being that which ultimately connects man and the cosmos, just as a shadow derives the plane from a three-dimensional object or an echo answers responsively to an issued sound.” – Shih-Chi (Records of the Grand Historian)
The text for this piece comes from Wu Li’s extended poem Singing of the Source and Course of the Holy Church, beautifully translated by Jonathan Chaves and used with his kind permission. Wu Li was one of the Six Orthodox Masters of early Ch’ing Dynasty painting, and an exceptionally skillful poet.
The progression of triads in the musical setting is meant to suggest the dynamic interchange of mutual adoration epitomized in the mystery of the Trinity. A pentatonic melody approximating the tones of the Mandarin text weaves its way in and out of the triadic structure.
In the very highest place, deep within a mansion
Dwells a family perfectly united, loving and devoted.
Beyond past, beyond present, the three Persons are one;
Penetrating heaven, penetrating earth, the one family is three!