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koan series (1997-1998)

koan (1997-1998)
koan (1997) 6 minutes ~
trumpet, organ
first performed by Peter Mainwaring (trumpet) and Jeremy Holland Smith (organ), Chelmsford Cathedral, 13 June 1997
second koan (1998) 7 minutes ~
trumpet, organ

The first of the koan pieces was written in 1997 for Jeremy Holland-Smith (organ) and Peter Mainwaring (trumpet) and was performed at Chelmsford Cathedral on 13 June 1997.

A koan is a kind of riddle used by Ch'an monks (and later Zen monks) and is usually posed by the master as a way of achieving enlightenment, or satori in Japanese. The most famous of these is perhaps that posed by the eighteenth century Japanese Zen master Hakuin, who, holding up his hand, said, "What sound does the clapping of one hand make?"
The 'solution' to these questions is never to be thought of in rational or philosophical terms but in intuitive understanding.

My use of koan as a title is twofold; firstly, I like the sound of the word; secondly, the riddle is analogous to the method I employed whilst composing the first piece - each object was in itself a small koan, any subsequent object was both the solution to the previous koan and a new koan.