My Soul Upon My Lips

Instrumentation Flute and piano

Timing 10′

Composed 2008

Commissioned by Tiresias with assistance from the British Columbia Arts Council

World Premiere August 3, 2008, Roundhouse, Vancouver, British Columbia. Tiresias (Mark McGregor, flute, and Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, piano)

Programme Notes

Kissing Agathon, I had my soul upon my lips; for it rose, poor wretch, as though to cross over.

Plato’s words evoke the Greek concept of the merging of two souls in a kiss: the “soul-kiss.” When the flute and piano duo Tiresias asked me to write a piece inspired by Oscar Wilde, who was himself a Greek scholar, Plato’s words resonated for me, for in playing the flute, it is as though the soul of the player passes though the instrument.

Oscar Wilde was at once one of the most successful writers in Victorian England, and a victim of his time. Imprisoned at Reading Gaol after his famous trial, Wilde was given the prisoner number C.3.3 (Block C, Floor 3, Cell 3), which translates musically as 4+3+3 (in older music, “C” represents “common time” or 4/4). This pattern is expressed in the music on every level: metrically, harmonically, melodically and temporally. The piece is in three connected sections representing Present (the isolation of prison), Past (the wonder and excitement of the first kiss), and Future (the hope of liberation).

My Soul Upon My Lips was commissioned by Tiresias (flutist Mark McGregor and pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa) with assistance from the British Columbia Arts Council, for premiere performance at the 2008 Pride in Art Festival in Vancouver.

PDF score excerpt

My Soul excerpt

Audio excerpt

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Study score $10 print, $6 PDF
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