Mercy in a Pathless Land

The premiere performance by the Jack Quartet on March 6th, 2024 at the University of Iowa

The Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti taught that “truth is a pathless land,” a saying intended to caution the listener against following gods and gurus. While composing this piece, I entered my own kind of pathless land. As in many of my recent works, I derived the piece’s materials from the names of the performers for whom it is written. However, working with the names of a quartet of players left me amidst dense chromatic weeds and thick quarter-tonal fog. I had to cut a new path. While cutting this path, I heard the “Kyrie” from Mozart’s Requiem crying “Lord have mercy!” Yet the need for mercy multiplied with each passing syllable…

 Thus, this piece is my prayer that we may find mercy to give amidst the tumultuous and the grotesque – not through belief, but through that light that shines within.


Christopher Otto – Violin 1
Austin Wulliman – Violin 2
John Pickford Richards – Viola
Jay Campbell – Cello

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