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Water Ruminations

for SATB

Text by Rumi

Edited Recording session 2/22/12

Millennium Consort Singers, Martin Neary coductor
Pomona College Choir, Donna Di Grazia, director

 

mix-12 (most splicing done. No mixing yet.

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WR I

WR II

WR III

WR IV

WR V

WR VI

Water Ruminations is a setting of six poems by the 13th century poet Rumi, in English translations by Coleman Barks, for double choir and organ.

The poetry sings of literal and spiritual connections between water and sky, a drop of water and human life, flowing water and love, drinking water and its container, the giddiness of spring and rolling seas, and the ocean’s gifts and singing.

The idea for the piece originated with the Mellon Elemental Arts Initiative, which proposed funding activities that would involve students in artistic experience and creation over the next four years, centered around the uniting theme of the four classical elements of Water, Earth, Air, and Fire. This year’s theme being water, the poems set here seemed ideal. The project brings together our own Pomona College Choir, Donna Di Grazia, conductor; and the professional Millennium Consort Singers, Martin Neary, conductor. Martin Neary for a week of rehearsing, performing, and recording. Water Ruminations is gratefully dedicated to the two choirs and their conductors.

I. A Water Wheel Turns
II. Entering The Shell
III. Water From Your Spring
IV. The Sweet Cold Water
V. Flutes For Dancing
VI. Singing

I. A WATER WHEEL TURNS
Inside water, a water wheel turns.
The star circulates with the moon.
We live in the night ocean wondering,
What are these lights? 

 

II. ENTERING THE SHELL
Love is alive, and someone borne
along by it is more alive than lions

roaring or men in their fierce courage.
Bandits ambush others on the road.

They get wealth, but they stay in one
place. Lovers keep moving, never

the same, not for a second! What
makes others grieve, they enjoy!

When they look angry, don't believe
their faces. It's spring lightning,

a joke before the rain. They chew
thorns thoughtfully along with pasture

grass. Gazelle and lioness, having
dinner. Love is invisible except

here, in us. Sometimes I praise love;
sometimes love praises me. Love,

a little shell somewhere on the ocean
floor, opens its mouth. You and I

and we, those imaginary beings, enter
that shell as a single sip of seawater.

 

III. WATER FROM YOUR SPRING
What was in that candle's light
that opened and consumed me so quickly?

Come back, my friend! The form of our love
is not a created form.

Nothing can help me but that beauty.
There was a dawn I remember

when my soul heard something
from your soul. I drank water

from your spring and felt the current take me.

 

IV. THE SWEET COLD WATER
We are the mirror as well as the face in it.
 We are tasting the taste this minute of eternity.
We are pain and what cures pain, both.
We are the sweet cold water and the jar that pours.

 

V. FLUTES FOR DANCING
It's lucky to hear the flutes for dancing
coming down the road. The ground is glowing.
The table set in the yard.

We will drink all this wine tonight
because it's Spring. It is.
It's a growing sea. We're clouds
over the sea,
or flecks of matter
in the ocean when the ocean seems lit from within.
I know I'm drunk when I start this ocean talk.

Would you like to see the moon split
in half with one throw?

 

VI. SINGING
When the soul first put on the body's shirt,
the ocean lifted up all its gifts.

When love first tasted the lips
of being human, it started singing.

Texts by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
© 1995 Coleman Barks. Used by permission.

 

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