Tantric Psalms (1997) for mezzo-soprano and string quartet.

Thomas Oboe Lee

About this work:

Commissioned by the Hawthorne String Quartet. Deborah Rentz Moore, mezzo-soprano.

Program notes:

Mark Ludwig came to me in the spring of 1997 wondering if I would be interested in writing a piece of music for the Hawthorne String Quartet that would bring to the attention of the world what many Tibetans are experiencing as exiles or political prisoners under the rule of the Peoples Republic of China. I told him I would be. So, he loaned me several books on Tibet, the Dalai Lamas, a video about a Tibetan ethnomusicologist who is currently in prison for "spying," and a few recordings of Tibetan folk music. I found the material very intriguing and fascinating. And toward the end of a five-week residency at the American Academy in Rome that summer, I completed the first draft of Tantric Psalms. The work was completed a week later at home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In 1999, I revisited the score and added a voice so that the beautiful Tibetan chants and prayers can be invoked.

Tantric Psalms is in three sections, but organized in two movements:

I. Invocation - Om ah hum hum (Chant sung with mouth closed.) Prayer: "Then bless me to embark ... "

II. Invocation - Simple Song of Fun/Om ma ni pad me hum

(Chant sung with mouth closed.) (Om ah hum hum. Om ah kham hum. Om ah om hum. Om ah sva hum. Om ah ah hum. Om ah ha hum. Om ah lam hum. Om ah mam hum. Om ah bam hum. Om ah tam hum. Om ah jah hum. Om ah hum hum. Om ah bam hum. Om ah hoh hum. Om ah maim hum. Om ah thlim hum. Om am om hum. Om ah om hum. Om ah om hum. Om ah hum hum. Om ah om hum. Om ah sam hum. Om ah hum hum. Om ah hum hum. Om ah hum hum. Om ah hum hum. Om ah hum hum. Om ah hum hum. Om ah hum hum. Om ah hum hum. Om ah hum hum. Om ah hum hum.)

Then bless me to embark in a boat to cross the ocean of the Tantras, Through the kindness of the Captain Vajra master, Holding vows and pledges, root of all power, more dearly than life itself! Bless me to perceive all things as the deity body, Cleasing the taints of ordinary perception, Through the yoga of the first stages of Unexcelled Tantra, Changing births, deaths, and between into the three Buddha bodies!

(Om ma ni pad me hum.)

Year composed: 1997
Duration: 00:17:00
Ensemble type: Unspecified Instrument(s):Ensemble
Instrumentation: 2 Violin, 1 Viola, 1 Cello, 1 Mezzo-Soprano

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