Commissioned by the guitarist Iliana Matos, Our sacred space (2004) was inspiredby the thoughts of Pema Chödrön, a spiritual leader and author known for herteachings on Tibetan Buddhism and the application of meditation techniques toeveryday life, who wrote: “…we are always in the center of a sacred space…
By drawing a circle around us and standing at the middle of it, we realize that weare always at the center of [our personal] universe.”
In her Our sacred space,Perez Velazquez seems more concerned not with creating a vehicle for avirtuosic soloist—even if the work is formidably difficult, and Iliana Matos’sperformance here virtuosic!—but instead with trying to capture the depth ofChödrön’s message, with seeking and creating a profound sense of stillness—evenif, following Buddhist teachings, it is stillness-in-motion.
Gently ascendingmelodic ideas begin each of the work’s three main sections, suggesting a subtleyearning, a questioning that pervades the mood of the entire work. Even in themore aggressive razgueado moments, the memory or promise of a calm, lonepitch—our recognition of the sacredness inherent in every moment—alwaysremains.
Like the circle that Chödrön suggests we imagine around ourselves,Perez Velazquez’s Our sacred space seems boundless, timeless—and so even whenthe work closes, the feeling is less of finality and ending, but instead ofinevitable repose and serenity.
Steven Bodner, Professor of Williams College, Music Department.