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Param Vir

Publisher: Novello & Co

Horse Tooth White Rock (1994),
commissioned by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Publisher
Novello & Co Ltd
Category
Orchestra
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
1994
Duration
24 Minutes
Programme Note
Param Vir Horse Tooth White Rock (1994),
Param Vir: Horse Tooth White Rock
for orchestra


This work owes its inspiration to the story of the life of Milarepa, the great eleventh century Tibetan saint. The title Horse Tooth White Rock comes from the name of the mountain in Tibet where Milarepa attained enlightenment. My work, which is in two movements with an Introduction, follows the main motives of his life according to the following scheme:

Introduction
An orchestral 'thunderbolt', a symbol and portrayal of Vajrayana (Diamond Path), the powerful esoteric discipline that leads Milarepa to transcendence and Enlightenment.

Movement I
After the death of Milarepa's father, his uncle and aunt ill-treat his family, annexing their property and reducing them to destitution. It is Milarepa's first encounter with the reality of intense suffering. Urged by his mother he leaves home to learn black magic, becoming in time a 'Great Magician'. By acts of sorcery he exacts a terrible revenge on those that preyed on his family. The results are inevitably death and destruction.

Movement II
Overcome by sorrow at the results of his wrong doing, Milarepa looks for a lama (monk-teacher) to find a true path out of suffering and evil. He seeks out Marpa, a highly evolved master, who initially appears harsh and terrifying, making impossible conditions and requiring Milarepa to undergo incredible ordeals and hardships. Milarepa walks a path of humility and gentleness, submitting to this discipline without anger, hatred and attack, and thus becomes cleansed of the impurity of past action. He gains the affection of his teacher and finally obtains from him the compassionate teaching and method that lead to enlightenment. Through meditation his life gradually awakens to a new quality of luminosity and deeper purpose. In a serene and moving scene he takes leave of Marpa as he begins a new life.

Horse Tooth White Rock was commissioned by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra which gave the première performance in Bradford on 3 March 1994, with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies conducting. The work is affectionately dedicated to Hans Werner Henze.


© Param Vir

Performances
Date
Title
Reviews
...an edgy and then tranquil piece based on the story of of a Tibetan mystic.
Robin Denselow, The Guardian,8/5/2005
Horse Tooth White Rock is gripping - a superbly crafted orchestral depiction of the 11th-century Buddhist mystic Milarepa's path from violence to transcendental calm, ending in a symbolic and sublimenly lyrical canon for cor anglais and cello over hushed strings.
Richard Morrison, The Times,8/5/2005
There was more modern music last night in the shape of Indian composer Param Vir's 'Horse Tooth White Rock', an exquisitely judged evocation of a Tibetan saint's journey to spiritual enlightenment.
Ivan Hewitt, The Daily Telegraph,8/4/2005
" (...) wonderfully virtuosic (wholly westernised) orchestral fantasy Horse Tooth White Rock (...) "
The Times,3/2/2003
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