The Spirit and the Dust (2015)

The Spirit and the Dust is a four-movement solo work for marimba by Sri Lankan-Canadian composer Dinuk Wijeratne. It was commissioned by Canadian percussionist Beverley Johnston, and was dedicated to the memory of her nephew who passed away. Each movement takes a quote from literature about life and death and meditates on it: 

I. “Death is a dialogue between the spirit and the dust” (Dickinson)

II. “Under this vast universe pain’s mill-wheel rotates” (Tagore)

III. “For in that sleep of death what dreams may come” (Shakespeare)

IV. “But this chain, though made of a breath, is hard to break.” (Gibran)

To Learn More about Dinuk, Click Here!

“Dinuk has effectively captured the vastly varied tone colours of the marimba in his evocative piece ‘The Spirit and the Dust’. Written in memory of my late nephew Cameron Thomas Haynes, each movement breathtakingly explores the never ending mysteries of life and death. This truly is a marimba masterpiece.” – Beverley Johnston

Composer Dinuk Wijeratne 

Canadian Percussionist Beverley Johnston 

Merlin (1985) 

"Merlin was composed for is dedicated to William Moersch. The poem Merlin by Edwin Arlington Robinson is a long narrative retelling of the King Arthur legend and of the destruction of his Court. I have used two quotes from the poem to set the tone of the two movements of the score." - Andrew Thomas

1. "Gawaine, Gawaine, what look ye for to see, 

So far beyond hte faint edge of the world? 

D'ye look to see the lady Vivian,

Pursued by divers ominous vile demons

That have another king more fierce than ours? 

Or think ye that if ye look far enough

And hard enough into the feathery west

Ye'll have a glimmer of the Grail itself? 

And if ye look for neither Grail nor lady, 

What look ye for to see, Gawaine, Gawaine?"

2. "...Time's way with you and me 

Is our way, in that we are out of Time

And out of tune with Time." - from Merlin, by Edwin Arlington Robinson 

For More Information about Andrew Thomas, Click Here!

Composer Andrew Thomas 

Percussionist William Moersch

Knit Me Together (2018) 

I met Kate in Boston in 2018, and after getting to know each other for about five minutes, we decided to collaborate on a piece for a recital I was doing later that summer on Mackinac Island, Michigan. The piece is based on Psalm 139, which can be found here. 

 

 

"Bitonality (two key centers at one time) plays really well into the felling to the holding onto two seemingly logical and conflicting ideas. The internal juxtaposition is hard to balance; sometimes I can prioritize one sonority over the other, but more often than not, the crunches and clashes rise to the top. Every once in a while, these conflicts create beautiful dissonance, a hybrid vantage point that allows me to embody aspects of both “worlds.” Sometimes two key areas are presented one after another, other times they coexist in the same temporal space. Regardless of departures, there is always a consistent point of return.

 

Additionally, this piece is rooted in water. A joy in knowing where a piece is being premiered is an opportunity to be sensitive to the environment. The sacred powers of water are clear and abundant in organized religions and secular belief systems worldwide. For this piece to be presented in a church, on an island, surrounded by water, inspires the fluid sustain and decay you hear in the instrument, sometimes irregular and lilting, others a little unpredictable just as two waves heading in opposite directions meet at dissimilar places in their cycles of rotation.

In corresponding and planning this piece with Josh, I mentioned that “All Creatures of Our God and King” was a favorite hymn of mine growing up going to a Congregational church in Storrs, CT. The tune and text setting were always intriguing to me; is the emphasis “AL-le-lu-ia,” or “al-le-LU-ia?” Also, as an alto, I had all the “good stuff” in my part. Much of the material in this piece comes from the hymn, often in direct quotation. If you know it, you’ll hear it, and let it be an anchor as the piece pushes at the edge of sonic comfort. My relationship with the sacred has always been a point of solace, sometimes simultaneously a source of loneliness and challenge. My beliefs aren’t stable, my momentum waivers often; music and a house of higher power have always been an opportunity to locate stillness and reflect on ideas and moments that hover around."  – Katherine Pukinskis

For More Information on Kate Pukinskis, Please Click Here!

Composer Katherine Pukinskis

Mackinac Island, Where the Work was Premiered