Title: In the Crystalline Vault of Heaven
Year Completed: 2015
Duration: 4 mins
Instrumentation: SATB chorus, a cappella
Credits: Commissioned by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Alexander Mickelthwate, Artistic Director, and funded by the Canada Council for the Arts.
Premiere: January 26, 2016, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Gary Kulesha, Conductor, and the choir, Horizon, Vic Pankratz, Artistic Director. Centennial Hall, Winnipeg, MB.

Purchase/Rent: Canadian Music Centre

In the Crystalline Vault of Heaven is the third movement of Earth Airs (Symphony No. 2). This movement stands alone as a composition for SATB chorus, a cappella. Earth Airs is my second symphony, a choral symphony. The text is adapted from the ancient Greek philosopher, Anaximenes of Miletus. Anaximenes was one of several Presocratic philosophers who questioned standard mythological creation theories and opted, instead, for observable explanations to better understand our world. Anaximenes suggests that air is the underlying substance from which everything is created. In his text, Anaximenes muses on the infinite nature of air, on the soul of the world, on the crystalline vault of the heavens, and on the moon being fire. I was intrigued by this notion of an underlying substance of air, and the musical ideas that his text evoked. Earth Airs was written in a spirit of celebration and mindfulness for the fragility of the atmosphere that supports life on earth.

In the Crystalline Vault of Heaven
Text adapted from Anaximenes of Miletus (c. 585 – c. 528 BCE)
English translations by John Burnet (second edition of Early Greek Philosophy, 1908)

The stars are fixed like nails, in the crystalline vault of heaven.
The stars give no heat because of their distance.
Winds are produced, when air is condensed, it rushes along under propulsion.
When it is concentrated and thickened still more, clouds are generated.
And lastly, it turns into water.

derek charke in the crystalline vault of heaven