Ma Fin (1997)
Processional for Orchestra
Duration: 8 minutes
The immediate influence on 'Ma fin' was medieval cathedrals.
On entering the medieval cathedral of Leon, Spain, one is struck not only by its awesome
size, but also by its exquisite stained glass, which symbolizes the ascent to the divine
through its three vertical levels. In the bottom arcade, flowering plants emerge from the
earth, at mid-level the triforium depicts human activity: men plowing fields, pilgrims
traversing the countryside. At top, the clerestory is devoted to the eternity of heaven.
While each of these levels possesses a different sense of internal and external time, they
manage to coexist in the vast expanse of the cathedral and as in the cathedral so to on
earth and in heaven.
Ma fin takes this notion of the gothic cathedral as its starting point; both in its separation
of the orchestra into three distinct layers - the strings play a tambura-type drone; the winds
and brass have chorale-type material that loops and reverses itself (hence the reference to
Machaut's famous rondeau), and in its monumentality and solemnity. One's initial impression
is of entering an enormous, all-encompassing, all-embracing sound. If the divine is - as the
Pre-Socratic philosopher Anaximander proposed - boundless: "the parts change, but the totality
is changeless," Ma fin is my communion with the divine.
-Nelsonville, February 2022
Aspen Chamber Symphony
Jeri Lynne Johnson, conductor
Score in Preparation