The Visions of Jeanne d'Arc
For Chamber Orchestra
flute, alto saxophone, bass trombone, percussion, 2 violins, viola, cello, and bass
The Finger Lakes Chamber Music Festival, 2012
June 11, 2012, by the Finger Lakes Chamber Music Festival Chamber Orchestra; Geneva, NY
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I have always had a fascination with religious figures and spirituality. Many people have voiced their opinions on this fascination as I do not consider myself a religious person, but there is something mysterious and alluring about a person devoting their life to serving a higher power that may or may not exist. It was with this fascination that I chose to write about Joan of Arc.
Joan was born around 1412 and was plagued (or blessed, depending on your view) with visions of battle during her adolescence. She considered these visions as a gift from God and used them to help the French defeat the English in several battles. When she was finally captured by the English and put on trial in Rouen, she was convicted as a heretic and sentenced to death by fire. Joan was illiterate, and during her trial she continually amazed English officials with her knowledge of God while successfully evading political traps set for her in the form of religious questions. Ultimately, her fate was sealed by a politically-charged, pro-English court.
While many composers have used their music to detail Joan's life, I set out to create an atmosphere which exhibited the juxtaposition of chaotic warfare and religious devotion that defined her life.
- Michael Henson