the temples at ogden and provo (2009)

For solo oboe and fourteen players

Commissioned by: Birmingham Contemporary Music Group

Programme Note:

The Judaeo-Christian concept of temples and associated temple-rituals is something well documented in the older scriptures of these two faiths. Whilst the remains of the Temple of Solomon remain highly sacred to the world’s Jewish population, mainstream Christian tradition has resided temple-worship to a position of antiquity – except for the practises of modern-day members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons).

Whilst the LDS (Latter-Day Saint) faithful worship in meetinghouses on Sundays, they also build temples; highly sacred structures for the performance of secret rituals intended to link the most faithful with God and the eternal world. Two such temples exist in the small towns of Ogden and Provo in Utah, USA. Whilst their locations are far apart, the two temples are almost architecturally identical, their twin-like relationship almost serving as an architectural symbol of the ever-repeated rituals they house.

But linked to both the Judaeo-Christian and LDS concepts of temples is the notion of the veil. In the portable tabernacle ordered by God for construction by Moses, a thin cloth veil was hung to separate the Holy of Holies - a space originally used for housing the Ark of the Covenant - and the alter. The Ark was originally placed under two ornate carvings of cherubims with outstretched-wings, which were retained with the Ark when it was moved to a more permanent and elaborate home in the Temple of Solomon in 960 BCE. The veil has now come to more globally theologically symbolise the fragile rift between the the material and spiritual worlds; in the secret LDS Temple rituals, members make eternally binding oaths before a veil before passing into ‘the celestial room’, symbolising heaven.

Although the Temple of Solomon now lies in ruins and LDS Temples are closed to the general population, both Jews and Mormons await the coming, or in the latter case return, of the Messiah who they claim will rule from His Temple of the New Jerusalem.

the temples at ogden and provo was commissioned by Sound and Music and BCMG (Birmingham Contemporary Music Group) and first performed by BCMG on the 16th of October 2009 with Melinda Maxwell as soloist, conducted by Richard Baker.


Score Excerpt:

Approximately 20 minutes