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World Premiere – January 27, 2022
Manhattan School of Music Philharmonia Orchestra
George Manahan, conductor
Although chaos and destruction often poison our view of this world, there is a hidden order to all things. Every person, being, or entity has its own idiosyncratic place in the universe. This is the message I take away from Jewish-Polish poet Yisroel Shtern’s 1934 poem "Every Sunbeam is a Compass Point," in which the last two verses say, “In a flooded field, in the ruined world / Here your place is – cherish it!” The word “tzirklshpitz,” which appears in the first line of the poem, is interpreted to mean “compass point,” though it literally translates to “tip of a circle,” a rather oxymoronic concept. This idea reminded me of the 1905 painting by Henri Matisse entitled "Le Bonheur de Vivre" (“the joy of life”), in which the human figures are static on the canvas yet, in the center of the painting, are frozen in a circular celebratory motion. "Tzirklshpitz," for orchestra, is my own musical synthesis of these two works.