Tenor and String Quintet
These steeples, everywhere pointing upward, ignoring despair and lifting hope, these lofty city spires, or simple chapels in the hills - they rise at every step from the earth to the sky; in every village of every nation on the globe they challenge doubt and invite weary hearts to consolation. Is it all a vain delusion? Is there nothing beyond life but death, and nothing beyond death but decay? We cannot know. But as long as men suffer these steeples will remain.
--Will Durant, The Pleasures of Philosophy: A Survey of Human Life and Destiny
Spires or steeples are an architectural feature used widely across many religious cultures throughout history. Directing our vision upward toward God and toward heaven, spires are a universal symbol of hope, stability, and peace, inviting all men to exercise faith, to become better people, and to reach out and lift up the weary and downtrodden.
Inspired by the quotation above by the American philosopher Will Durant, Spires is a setting of two poems by the 13th-century Persian Sufi mystic, Rumi. Both poems deal with themes of inclusivity, invitation, and consolation, beckoning the listener onward and upward with the clarion call, \"Come!\" The symbol of the spires is represented in the music by a rapidly rising motive of ascending sixths that unifies both movements.
This piece was commissioned by the Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance, located on campus as Rice University.