work details

The Visible World

  • Instrumentation: SSAATTBB chorus a cappella
  • Completed: June 2014
  • Duration: 9 minutes
  • Texts: Excerpts from Oscar Wilde’s “De profundis” and texts of Théophile Gautier, Catullus, Anthony Kennedy, and Paul Barwick
  • Audio:
  • Press:
  • Published:

    DD3 Publications, Distributed by Graphite Publishing

  • Commission and Dedication:

    Commissioned by and dedicated to Eric Banks and The Esoterics,
    and created as part of the first annual 
    HARMONIA residency, 2014, with composer Donald Skirvin

  • Texts:

    “Je suis un homme pour qui le monde visible existe.“
             Théophile Gautier

     

    “Sorry it took so long.”
             – Poster outside of Seattle City Hall on the adoption of civil marriages for LGBT persons in Washington State, 2012

     

    I don’t regret for a single moment having lived for pleasure. 
...
    There was no pleasure I did not experience.
            Oscar Wilde, “De profundis”

     

    Mellitos oculos tuos, Juventi,                                         Your honeyed eyes, Juventius!
    siquis me sinat usque basiare,                                       If one would let me kiss them,
    usque ad milia basiem trecenta,                              I would kiss them three hundred thousand times,
    nec unquam videar satur futurus,                                    and I would never seem to have enough
    non si densior aridis aristis                                                not even if the thick, dry stalks
    sit nostrae seges osculationis.                                        are the crop of our kisses.
             Catullus, “Carmina 48”                                                                    - Translation by D. DiOrio

     

    I wanted to eat of the fruit of all the trees in the garden of the world ...
    And so, indeed, I went out, and so I lived.
             Oscar Wilde, “De profundis”

     

    “The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.”
             – Justice Anthony Kennedy, Lawrence vs. Texas, 2003

     

    I know that on the day of my release I will merely be moving from one prison into another, and there are times when the whole world seems to be no larger than my cell, and as full of terror for me.
             Oscar Wilde, “De profundis”

     

    "I'm looking forward to when this generation will be able to go off and get married and not realize there was a battle to allow that right.”
             –  Paul Barwick, Seattle gay rights pioneer, on the adoption of same-sex marriage in Washington State, 2012

     

    To deny one's own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one's own life.
    It is no less than a denial of the soul.
             Oscar Wilde, “De profundis”

     

    “Sorry it took so long.”                           “Je suis un homme pour qui le monde visible existe.”

  • Program Note:

    The Visible World is without a doubt one of my most unique and multifarious compositions. Created and commissioned as part of HARMONIA—the composer residency program created by Eric Banks and The Esoterics—, this work was designed for a program of “audacious” music. For my own audacity, I have chosen as inspiration the struggle for civil equality for same-sex couples.

    Without question, I am one of the lucky ones. I was born into a world where the march of progress has been ever-accelerating. By and large, I have never known the same world of secrecy, disease, heartache, and separation experienced by my gay friends born just a few decades earlier. Yet, their struggles do not ring hollow. I do not take for granted my freedom to live a life of relative safety and security. I seek to learn and read and soak up the experiences of those who came before me, so that my life is one rooted in gratitude.

    Oscar Wilde’s “De Profundis” is both love letter and manifesto, both meditation on the nature of sorrow in art and meditation on the place of Christ in thought. From this letter of over 50,000 words, I have taken phrases that resonate with me and my agenda: those phrases that perhaps speak clearest to Wilde’s affair and relationship with Lord Douglas, and thus with the “sexually deviant” lifestyle for which he was imprisoned in the 1890’s. Interwoven with this text are other found lines: a love poem of Catullus to a young man Juventius—in the original Latin; Anthony Kennedy’s pronouncement fromLawrence vs. Texas decriminalizing same-sex love; a quote by Paul Barwick (one of the first two gay men to apply for a marriage license in Seattle in 1971) on the nature of progress; and a quote from a poster outside Seattle City Hall on the day same-sex marriage was legalized: “Sorry it took so long.” Anchoring all of these texts is a French quotation from Gautier: “Je suis un homme pour qui le monde visible existe.”

    Yes, I am one of the lucky ones. I am a man who has been fortunate enough to grow up in the visible world. This work then is dedicated to those who fought and struggled in the invisible world; without them, my life and my world would not be possible.

  • Performances:
    • August 7, 2015 (premiere)
      The Esoterics
      Eric Banks, conductor 
      St. Stephen's Episcopal Church - Seattle, WA
    • August 8, 2015
      The Esoterics
      Eric Banks, conductor
      Holy Rosary Catholic Church - West Seattle, WA
    • August 9, 2015
      The Esoterics
      Eric Banks, conductor
      Grace Episcopal Church - Bainbridge Island, WA
    • October 7, 2016
      The Esoterics
      Eric Banks, conductor 
      St. Stephen's Episcopal Church - Seattle, WA
    • October 8, 2016
      The Esoterics
      Eric Banks, conductor
      Holy Rosary Catholic Church - West Seattle, WA
    • October 9, 2016
      The Esoterics
      Eric Banks, conductor
      Grace Episcopal Church - Bainbridge Island, WA
    • June 25, 2018
      "Bodies"
      Resonance Ensemble
      Katherine FitzGibbon, artistic director
      Cerimon House - Portland, OR