The title of Whirling Wings, (2003) for solo flute, and the subtitles of each movement - Soaring in Heaven, Sweeping the Earth, and Flying all Around Us - come from an antiphon by Hildegard of Bingen. Her collection of poems, songs and antiphons is entitled Symphony of the Harmony of Celestial Revelations.
O Virtus Sapientia
You of the whirling wings
energy of God:
You quicken the world in your clasp.
One wing soars in heaven
one wing sweeps the earth
and the third flies all around us.
Praise be to you,
Reflection on the meaning of this poem gave shape to this piece. Wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit, who is metaphorically often depicted as a dove with beating wings. So, I believe this poem is praising the work of the Holy Spirit. My piece was written in March, when every day on my drive to the university I would see hundreds of returning snow geese and Sandhills cranes. I was impressed by the flapping of their wings in this spring ritual.
So, my work is about spring, joy and the work of the Spirit. I’ve tried to capture some of the energy and motion implied in the text. The first section Soaring in Heaven uses musical imagery to depict soaring and fluttering of wings. The second section, Sweeping the Earth, is more lyrical and then dance-like, suggesting a gentle cleansing of the earth and touching of humanity. In the third section, “Flying All Around Us, musical gestures represent the overwhelming feeling of being in the midst of the whirlwind, the whirling wings, overcome by the Holy Spirit. Flying All Around Us begins Animato, ma rubato, suggested by ‘notes flying all round us’.
New edition engraved 2020
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