• John Tavener
  • Songs of the Sky (2005)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)
  • tenor/ob/pf
  • 30 min
  • Traditional Hindu, Zen Buddhist, American Indian

Programme Note

Songs of the Sky was written in memory of those killed in the Tsunami. I had already been setting “Haiku” to music when I heard of the human tragedy. The Haiku (verses) seemed so deeply relevant that I decided to begin Songs of the Sky, with a dedication in Latin to the victims of the Tsunami. The eleven short verses have contrasting musical material. The songs come from the American Indian tradition, Zen Buddhism, and the Hindu tradition, the metaphysics of which so deeply understand the “sacredness” of the virgin nature; God inside and above nature; In the final song, a Bengali hymn to the Goddess Kali, the poet prays to her as a “death conquering” Goddess, to “enter in dancing Thy rhythmic dance, That I may behold Thee with closed eyes” All the musical material from the previous ten songs is gathered together in the last prayer. It is as if the fragmented essences of the previous songs have all been gathered together in this fierce but transcendent Hymn to the Goddess of Death. The use of long silences and dying sounds is integral to the cycle.


Songs of the Sky


Score sample