Ahimsa

Year: 2021

Instrumentation: orchestral ensemble

Duration: 22 minutes

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Program Notes

The older I get, the more I find myself thinking about the concept of ahimsa, which in its simplest sense, means not to inflict harm on others through thought, word or action. An ancient concept, yet one which has not caught on sufficiently in our troubled world. Humankind is not only in endless violent conflict within itself, but by and large we fail to recognize that we are part of all of life on this earth and all that life is a part of us. Thus, we inflict the same violence, if not worse, on the innocent lives of all Earth’s creatures, as we do upon ourselves.

As I thought about it recently, I decided to write music that reflects this basic principle for living, in sections honoring those who, for me, were guiding lights for how to live your life in this way. The words that introduce each movement are meant to be read aloud before the music sounds if or when this music is performed before an audience. It begins with my maternal grandfather, who although I doubt he would have ever run across the word, taught me the same precepts in his own way, sitting around the dinner table in the Bronx. Live your life, pursue your dreams, but never at the expense of others. This introduction is followed by the words of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and John Lennon – all of whom died while in the pursuit of holding up the candle of ahimsa for all to see. Writing this in 2021, it is hard to think of any who are their match today, but those with their intensity are sorely needed.

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