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Home, a tone poem based on a poem series by Miriam Wei Wei Lo, for bassoon, cello and piano

Miriam Wei Wei Lo’s poem is not a placid description of place but a journey of longing and wrestling with homesickness. It explores multiple cultural identities and Christian faith. Home is also described as ‘not yet’ and ‘now’; an ideal and an incomplete reality; found with people and in a Person.

The piece starts the journey of longing with a melodic theme in the bassoon. It then explores the places mentioned in the first three stanzas of the poem which then leads into the more idyllic picture of the fourth stanza.

It is interrupted by an explosion of sound in the piano representing the explosion of light in the poem. This leads naturally into a dream-like section heavily influenced by Ravel, which ends somberly “Like death, in all its finality”. Out of that section emerges a theme in the cello signifying “Someone is at work in me”. This theme is developed and combined firstly with the dream-like themes, and secondly with the earlier lyrical themes. It slowly leads to a climax which highlights the ridiculous nature of our tendency to material accumulation, like having “Enough books for a dowager empress, or medieval king.”

The final section, once again, returns to the melodic theme of longing, played in the bassoon, coupled with the piano’s theme from the dream-like section, but it is reworked as the tranquil swaying blue plumbago.

Here is the poem by Miriam Wei Wei Lo: