The mandala (mun’dala), a Sanskrit term for an archetypal circle, is a pan-cultural symbol whose shape suggests both linearity and non-linearity. Thus, it often represents
both time and timelessness, as well as the cyclical nature of life. Circular motion, often symbolized in art by the wheel, has no beginning or end, and is thus immutable.
These are the images that inspired this piece for oboe and piano. The purity of the oboe sound and the “spinning” nature of the piano writing perhaps represent some of these images in sound. At the same time, music is a human endeavor and thus not perfect, and so, perhaps paradoxically, the instruments and their material (the variegation so beautifully characteristic of the oboe, and the wide range of piano textures and colors) suggest an imperfection and seeking that drive the work.
Mandala is dedicated with admiration and affection to
David Weiss and Alpha H. Walker, who commissioned the woark and gave its first performance in Los Angeles in 2002.