This piece was not originally intended to be political. I initially titled it Almost Zen - the musical idea governing the piece was a piece that has elements of loopable “Zen” music - relaxing instruments like the harp and flute, sustained strings, higher pitched bell sounds, sliding tones, and a piece that can loop endlessly without the listener noticing the loop point. This piece has a lot of those elements, but never really gets to that relaxed sensibility. There is always something off and tense about it, and as the piece progresses, it is anything but “Zen”. The piece was inspired by my time in Kashmir, the northernmost state of India, bordering Pakistan in the Himalayas. However, as I was writing this piece, the political crisis in Kashmir has been getting worse and worse. I know people there, who I have climbed with, whose food I have eaten - and at the moment the Indian government has place a full media and internet blackout on the all of them. It’s been going on for months. The government says they’re doing this to prevent violent protests due to a recent change in law. They removed the semiautonomy of Kashmir, for reasons of national security, and development. Although I understand the need to do so, given the increase in terrorist insurgencies coming in from Pakistan, among other reasons, I feel the method of placing full communications breakdown on the 15 million people who live there as unjust and undemocratic. I I should state, this is my view, as a semi-outsider (I grew up in Singapore, and am more Singaporean than I am Indian). I’m hoping to use this piece as a platform for awareness, as the media doesn’t seem to really discuss this issue at all. If you want to help, or learn more, here is a link - https://hhrd.org/new/kashmir
About the work
An Ode to Kashmir (2019)
Premiered by the Boston Conservatory Composers' Orchestra. Conducted by Vimbayi Kaziboni at the Boston Conservatory on 4th December, 2019.
3(1,2,picc/alto).2.2(1,bcl).2–4.2.3(1,2,btbn).1–timp+3, hp, pno–str