What the Chickpea Said to the Cook - 2013
6:00 - (2222 / 4231 / 2 perc / hrp / strings)
Composed for and funded by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra.
Premiere: October 4, 2013, Centre in the Square, Kitchener/Ontario, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Edwin Outwater - conductor
This somewhat unusual title comes from a poem by the 13th-century Persian, Rumi: Chickpea to Cook. I was inspired by its florid, quirky nature, charged with boiling. The music is a tone poem of the Chickpea's transformation. I also heard it as a metaphor for classical music training and the relationship of student to teacher.
The music begins in a boiling chaos, and the chickpea leaps out in the winds - the bass drum "ladle" slaps the pea down, and sings his song with horn and cello. After this, a state of grace, a ride on an elephant and then the final boiling to its cooked conclusion.
Chickpea to Cook
A chickpea leaps almost over the rim of the pot
where it's being boiled.
"Why are you doing this to me?"
The cook knocks him down with the ladle.
"Don't you try to jump out.
You think I'm torturing you.
I'm giving you flavor,
so you can mix with spices and rice
and be the lovely vitality of a human being.
Remember when you drank rain in the garden.
That was for this."
Grace first. Sexual pleasure,
then a boiling new life begins,
and the Friend has something good to eat.
Eventually the chickpea
will say to the cook,
"Boil me some more.
Hit me with the skimming spoon.
I can't do this by myself.
I'm like an elephant that dreams of gardens
back in Hindustan and doesn't pay attention
to his driver. You're my cook, my driver,
my way into existence. I love your cooking."
The cook says,
"I was once like you,
fresh from the ground. Then I boiled in time,
and boiled in the body, two fierce boilings.
My animal soul grew powerful.
I controlled it with practices,
and boiled some more, and boiled
once beyond that,
and became your teacher