Tom Winpenny, organ
Duration: 8 min.
Dedication: for Tom Winpenny
Publisher: Zimbel Press/Subito Music Corp.
“Resplendent stars, in purple meadow trembling;
Leaves of the great Heaven tree —”
— John Flavel Mines (1835–1891), The Heroes of the Last Lustre (1858)
“The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit”
— James Joyce (1882–1941), Ulysses (1918–20)
Heaventree (2022) was written for the brilliantly adventurous English organist Tom Winpenny. The image of the “heaven tree” sees its first use in English in the mid 19th century, though the idea comes from far earlier. The Oxford English Dictionary defines this usage as “a mythical tree growing from the underworld, through the earth, and up to heaven, which figures in some Malay and Polynesian beliefs.” In fact, numerous world mythologies have descriptions of such a tree that crosses the divide between the realms (such as the Scandinavian Yggdrasil, the Mayan Yax cheel cab, the Sumerian Huluppu, the Kazakh Baiterek, the Persian Haōma, the Latvian Austras koks, the Chinese Fusang, and the Jewish Etz Chaim, among many others).