By writing The Veil of the Temple, I understood that no single religion could be exclusive. ‘The veil has become light – there is no longer any veil’. This tearing away of the Veil shows that all religions are in the transcendent way inwardly united beneath their outward form.
WB Yeats, ‘the most learned of poets’, inspired the Supernatural Songs. The songs represent in miniature the change in metaphysical direction that occurred at the end of the Veil of the Temple. At this time I was avidly reading the perennial philosophers Schuon, Guenon, Coomaraswamy, and my attention was brought to Schuon’s poetry. His magisterial universalist philosophy was heard summed up in simple ecstatic poems, written in German. I chose 19 out of about 3000 and set them for Patricia Rozario, piano quintet and temple bowls.
Hymn of Dawn is a mystical love song inspired by texts from the American Indians, St John’s Gospel, the Sufis and the Hindus. A small orchestra with soprano, baritone, flute and violin solos, with a huge part for the pow-wow drum gives some indication of the sound of the music. Listening to it again recently I was struck by the joyous femininity of the musis, especially in the rather strange ritual adoration of the Yoni.
The Lament for Jerusalem set texts from the Gospels, Psalms and the Prologue to Rumi’s masnavi. It is another love song lamenting in three traditions our banishment from Home, and the temporary loss of the beatific vision.
The Beautiful Names of 2004 is inspired by the 99 names of God (Allah), which were introduced to me by my life-long friend Philip Pilkington.
Westminster Cathedral commissioned a Missa Brevis in 2005. At around the time of the appointment of the new Pope Benedict, I embarked on a huge setting of the Mass for the Immaculate Conception, using the complete Latin texts superimposed with Sanscript, Arabic, Aramaic, Greek texts and poetry about the Virgin Mary. It was premiered in Zurich on the 8th December 2007, the day of the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
I returned to a life-long love of The Magic Flute in a large-scale sacred drama entitled Krishna. This is based on some of the most magical episodes from the life of Krishna and is musically connected to Mozart’s opera. The central love duet between Krishna and Radha is the most ecstatic music that I have ever written. I am still seeking a commission for this work.
Towards Silence, written in 2007, is a meditation on death and closes the period before I became seriously ill. It has become an important piece to me in my slow recovery.
After coming out of hospital in 2008, I had not the strength to set gothic texts, and used the little energy I had to set deeply personal miniatures. For instance, I wrote Adieu Roger in memory of my brother, and I set Blake’s Cradle Song for my then two-year-old son. For my wife, who has nursed me back to some degree of health, I have written settings of the Shakespeare Sonnets. I have also set the Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis in Latin and most recently I have come full circle and returned to the English metaphysical tradition by setting Henry Vaughan’s They Are All Gone Into the World of Light.