The Eleventh Heaven (full orchestra)
About the piece:
Ilhuícatl-Teotlacuauhco, ‘The Heaven Where the Red God is’
The Eleventh Heaven is inspired by two pre-hispanic subjects: the eleventh level of the heavens in Nahua cosmology, and the visual representation of such cosmological systems as illustrated by pre-hispanic societies.
Nahuas believed in a cosmos organized vertically containing thirteen levels of heavens, each home to different deities and forces of nature. The eleventh heaven is described by the Nahuas as the red region beyond the stars; the red sky full of rays of light where the dying sun and twilight reside. Within this heaven lives Xiuhtecutli, god of the fire of creation, and Chantico, goddess of wrath and volcanoes.
The Eleventh Heaven also mirrors the mechanics of the Nahua representations of this cosmological system, particularly those found in the first page of the Fejérváry-Mayer Codex. Historicism, the quest for transcendence, is a central theme in the codex. The piece explores the conflict between the persistence of memory and the fleeting nature of human memory itself. The piece demonstrates this conflict through the constant repetition of the main theme, the acoustic range, and the almost perpetual fortissimo observed throughout the piece.
The glyphs that can be observed throughout the codex serve as pictographic references that both interact with and add to the scene being depicted as a whole. The codex is meant to be both a piece of literature and a piece of visual art: to be read and to be contemplated. In response, The Eleventh Heaven explores a layering approach to form in its development, while emphasizing repetition of both motivic and textural elements in their dynamic relations.
"My music fundamentally explores ancient aesthetics and their place in our rapid-changing, contemporary culture. Referencing ancient art and literature (pre-hispanic and Roman), my works investigate idealization, historicism, memory, and transcendence by juxtaposing current and ancient understandings.
"These subjects often take the form of extensive, vectorial phrases that puzzle together to create overarching structures akin to processional architecture (mausoleums, temples, pyramids). With an emphasis in line, melody often lingers in the form of harmony etching vertical sound-masses into relief. Although distant from the ‘minimalist’ tradition, repetition takes a special significance in my music, both as a cyclical device and as a symbol reminiscent of epic literature, ritual, and prayer.
"At the individual level, my music is most concerned with our need to communicate through emotion and intuition in order to connect with greater truths: that is, to connect with each other".