Program Notes

The bassoon is the most curious of instruments. Its mechanical evolution has made it a challenge to play, and its sound ranges from the most jocular to the most haunting. There have been many pieces that stress its ability to be humorous, so I wanted to focus in this piece on its incredible ability to plead, entice, command, and conjure. Hence its role as an avatar. An avatar is the incarnation of an immortal being, or of the Ultimate Being. It derives from the Sanskrit word "Avatara" which means "descent" and usually implies a deliberate descent into mortal realms for special purposes. The term is used primarily in Hinduism, for incarnations of the god Vishnu the preserver, but is also used by extension by non-Hindus to refer to the incarnations of the gods in other religions and mythologies. I. Krishna is one of the avatars of Vishnu. Krishna's body is the color of an enchantingly beautiful dark rain cloud, since Vishnu is epitomized by the principle of water, being himself the God of Preservation. Water is seen as the basic principle for life as we know it on earth, the nourisher of plants and animals alike, the very substance of existence. II. Kalki is the name of the tenth and final avatar of Vishnu. The name Kalki is often a metaphor for "Eternity" or "Time". III. Juggernaut is also the title of one of Vishnu’s avatars. The Sanskrit Jagannath, meaning "lord of the world," is used to describe any literal or metaphorical force regarded as unstoppable, one that will crush all in its path. The Avatar was commissioned by Michigan State University and was premiered in April, 2006, with Michael Kroth as soloist.