The Field of Opportunity (1994) 10'

Programme Note

'The Field of Opportunity' is a chamber orchestral arrangement of the second movement of my orchestral work Horse Tooth White Rock, which was commissioned by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and premiered in 1994 under the baton of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. This work is an extended tone-poem inspired by the life of the Tibetan sage Milarepa. The second movement draws its images from an extraordinary chapter in his history.

Having caused much death and destruction through his youthful misdeeds, Milarepa is overcome by remorse and vows to look for a perfected lama (teacher) who can help him find a true path out of suffering and evil. His search leads him to Marpa, a highly evolved Tibetan master-teacher. Marpa initially appears harsh and terrifying, making impossible conditions and requiring Milarepa to undergo extreme ordeals and hardships. Through submission to this extreme discipline, Milarepa chooses to walk a path of humility and gentleness. All thoughts of hatred, anger and revenge on others leave him. He is thus freed of the impurity of past action. He gains the affection of his teacher and finally obtains from him the wise and compassionate instruction that leads to Enlightenment. This radiant exchange is symbolised here by the duet between the cor anglais and the cello. Through meditation Milarepa's life gradually awakens to a new quality of luminosity and purpose. In a serene and moving scene, he takes leave of Marpa.

My work takes its title from the fact that Milarepa first encountered his teacher ploughing a field - an occasion he commemorated by naming it 'the Field of Opportunity'.

© Param Vir