Opus 970

A Vision of the Tree of Life (2012)

for Carillon

Neil Thornock, carillon

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Duration: 10.5 min.

Dedication: for Neil Thornock

Commission: Commissioned by Neil Thornock

Publisher: free download

A Vision of the Tree of Life (2012) for carillon was written for and is dedicated to Neil Thornock, faculty member at Brigham Young University School of Music, a wonderful composer himself, and an advocate for new carillon and organ music.

The work is a rhapsodic poem inspired by a vision appearing in the Book of Mormon (I Nephi 8), one of the most well-known visions from Mormon scripture. In the story, the prophet Lehi is exiled to the wilderness and sees this vision in a dream. The piece begins with “dreaming” music (which unfolds the material for the rest of the piece), and then follows it with brief sections specifically connected to particular images within the story:

Lehi sees “a tree with white fruit” and near the tree a “river of water.” He then sees “a rod of iron” alongside a narrow path and “numberless concourses of people” pressing forward so that they might stay on the path. A mist of darkness arises and only those who cling to the rod of iron are able to stay on the path.

The vision is often viewed as a parable in which the rod of iron represents the word of God, and only those who cling to it are able to stay on the path (to salvation).

After sections that depict the opening images of the tree and water, a sturdy theme is presented that symbolizes the “rod of iron.” Faster music begins symbolizing the “numberless concourses of people,” and finally under it appears the “rod of iron” theme. After this reaches a climax, there is a return to the opening “dreaming” music before a pealing coda representing the joyous praise of God.

Though not of the Mormon faith or background myself, like many composers of the past, I have often found artistic stimulation from exploring the belief of other faith traditions.