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Dust, Mirror, and Bodhi Tree, Op. 19


[sample score]


Alternative title: 塵、鏡、菩提樹,作品 19

Year of composition: 2023

Instrumentation: 2 piccolos, piano

Duration: 4½ mins

Commissioned by: Hong Kong Piccolo Association


World premiere:

Ivy Chuang (picc), Karen Wong (picc), Lance Mok (pno)

2023 Mar 20・All Saints' Church, High Wycombe, UK





— 六祖惠能

The beginning of all human sufferings—the pain of life and eternal reincarnation—is the slightest thread of obsessive thoughts. If one sees through the façade of materialistic manifestations of the metaphysical reality, obsession (dust) and the sufferings it brings will have no solidity to cling to in one’s heart (clear mirror) and enlightenment (Bodhi tree). Such was the essence of the Buddhist patriarch Huineng’s famous gatha, from which the title of the work Dust, Mirror, and Bodhi Tree was derived.

Exploiting the purity in the interval of perfect fifths and the timbre of the piccolos especially in their lower registers, the piece opens with a stoic calmness, only to be disturbed by a dissonant figure that creeps into the texture and becomes growingly obsessive. Through much bitter darkness, the piccolos eventually soar into awakening and liberation. Calmness is reinstated, perhaps with more wisdom this time, while the cosmic clockwork, as it always has been, remains uninterrupted.

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