Breath of Life

baritone and orchestra, 2023
Duration: 21 minutes

2 Flute (2. Piccolo)
2 Oboe
2 Clarinet in Bb/A
2 Bassoon
2 Horn in F
2 Trumpet
2 Trombone
2 Percussion

Program note: Breath of Life is inspired by several experiences that have highlighted the precious and precarious nature of human breath. From my son‘s asthma, my father‘s sleep apnea, my recent engagement with meditative practice, the global respiratory pandemic, and the interpersonal violence we have witnessed, breath has featured prominently in my thinking about how we begin our engagement with the world, our engagement with music making, and our commitment to change.
The work, in six continuous parts, begins with a biblical passage where God breathes life into man and later includes a fragment of a psalm about praise through breath and a statement attributed to Giovanni Papini that ”breathing is the greatest pleasure in life“. The principal texts are three contemporary poems: Mark O’Brien‘s ”Breathing“ from The Man in the Iron Lung chronicles the poet‘s struggles to do this most basic of tasks; Dana Faulds‘ “Breath of Life” celebrates the breath as the initial action in mindfulness practice; and Lynn Ungar‘s “Breathe” presents a dialog between a person angered by pollution and injustice who is speaking with the wind.
Breath of Life will be premiered by the Ocala Symphony Orchestra with baritone Anthony Offerle in October, 2023.

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