Tattvamasi is a Sanskrit phrase translated, as “You are that.” It is one of the grand pronouncements in Vedantic. The song cycle is based on Rajiv Mohabir’s Tattvamasi, You Are That. This cycle is part of a larger three song cycle collaboration between Kristin Leitterman (oboist and soprano), Rajiv Mohabir (lyricist) and Michael-Thomas Foumai, Brandon Scott Rumsey, and Whitney George (Composers)
All the song cycles are a part of Leela Out of Darkness, comprising “Tattvamasi, You are That,” “Leela,” and “Panch Mahabhuta: Sky, Air, Fire, Water, Earth,” in which the human soul is stripped of pretense and music lilts from the sutures of identity. It is said that we are spiritual beings having a material experience, which has a natural parallel to Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Buddhist concepts, highlighting the interconnection in all things. These songs focus on how all are connected through Leela, the Divine Play that causes bodies to take incarnation, to forget our interconnection, that returns cycles of breath to the atmosphere.
The marriage of word and song highlights the connections of the human body to the natural world. The idea that our material experience predicts a spirituality is not new. These songs consider the connections of all things, arising from Darkness—the unknown creative force, primordial and transformative—as music spirals into new life.
For this cycle, Rajiv divided Tattvamasi on to six pages with breaks and for this reason I chose to set each page as a movement. The character of each piece is informed by the subject matter of each page. The fiery allusions of the first are heard in the trills and gestures of the piano, the coarse and edginess of the second with thorny harmonies, lyrical and flowing lines to capture water of the third, incisive rhythms for the ravenous fourth, delicate textures for the fifth’s meditativeness, and lush harmonies to close the sixths call to play.
These songs are bookended with solo oboe passagework. Since Kristin is both soprano and an oboist, and the text’s connections to shehenai, I decided to include short instrumental reflections that could showcase the duality of Kristin’s role as singer and oboist. Formally, these passages are analogues to a prologue, interlude and postlude.
Janurary 28, 2019: Kristin Leitterman, Jonesboro, AK, USA
October 22, 2018: Kristin Leitterman, Hattiesburg, MS, USA
October 13, 2018: Kristin Leitterman, Brooklyn, NY, USA
October 11, 2018: Kristin Leitterman, Soprano/Oboe, New York, NY, USA
Soprano, Oboe, Piano
A. Prologue (Oboe)
1. The God of Fire
2. Hollow Beaks
3. Monsoon Cycles
B. Interlude (Oboe)
4. Litany of Caws
5. The Licking Flames
6. Before the Rain
C. Postlude (Oboe & Piano)
October 11, 2018
Kristin Leitterman, Soprano/Oboe
New York, NY, USA