Towards a Concerto of Deliverance
This is a first of a series of posts for the purpose of recording the progress from inception to completion of the project of John Mills-Cockell's Concerto of Deliverance.
Although I had dreamed of hearing such a concerto for decades, only recently did I have the money, confidence, and John Mills-Cockell's agreement to undertake the realization of it.
While my primary aim is to have John create the Concerto for me and my family and friends to enjoy, I'm also anticipating that many others, too, will find enjoyment in it.
I begin the series with two passages from Atlas Shrugged that best set the theme of the Concerto of Deliverance -- followed by excerpts from early emails between myself and JMC. Subsequent posts will continue with more of these email excerpts.
From Atlas Shrugged, two excerpts:
[This is where Dagny is first introduced, about page 20, and where she first hears what she later learns to be Concerto of Deliverance. (I hear in John Mills-Cockell's "Tillicum" a very brief glimpse -- the piece is about two minutes long -- of the Deliverance theme described later in the passage.)]
She sat at the window of the train, her head thrown back, one leg stretched across to the empty seat before her. The window frame trembled with the speed of the motion, the pane hung over empty darkness, and dots of light slashed across the glass as luminous streaks, once in a while.
Her leg, sculptured by the tight sheen of the stocking, its long line running straight, over an arched instep, to the tip of a foot in a high-heeled pump, had a feminine elegance that seemed out of place in the dusty train car and oddly incongruous with the rest of her. She wore a battered camel's hair coat that had been expensive, wrapped shapelessly about her slender, nervous body. The coat collar was raised to the slanting brim of her hat. A sweep of brown hair fell back, almost touching the line of her shoulders. Her face was made of angular planes, the shape of her mouth clear-cut, a sensual mouth held closed with inflexible precision. She kept her hands in the coat pockets, her posture taut, as if she resented immobility, and unfeminine, as if she were unconscious of her own body and that it was a woman's body.
She sat listening to the music. It was a symphony of triumph. The notes flowed up, they spoke of rising and they were the rising itself, they were the essence and the form of upward motion, they seemed to embody every human act and thought that had ascent as its motive. It was a sunburst of sound, breaking out of hiding and spreading open. It had the freedom of release and the tension of purpose. It swept space clean, and left nothing but the joy of an unobstructed effort. Only a faint echo within the sounds spoke of that from which the music had escaped, but spoke in laughing astonishment at the discovery that there was no ugliness or pain, and there never had had to be. It was the song of an immense deliverance.
She thought: For just a few moments -- while this lasts -- it is all right to surrender completely -- to forget everything and just permit yourself to feel. She thought: Let go -- drop the controls -- this is it.
Somewhere on the edge of her mind, under the music, she heard the sound of train wheels. They knocked in an even rhythm, every fourth knock accented, as if stressing a conscious purpose. She could relax, because she heard the wheels. She listened to the symphony, thinking: This is why the wheels have to be kept going, and this is where they're going.
* * *
[Next, from the last page, the last reference to Wyatt's Torch , a symbol of the unrelenting, undefeatable human spirit. (I hear in John Mills-Cockell's "Melina's Torch", 2nd version, a similar theme of indomitability.)]
They could not see the world behind the mountains, there was only a void of darkness and rock, but the darkness was hiding the ruins of a continent: the roofless homes, the rusting tractors, the lightless streets, the abandoned rail. But far in the distance, on the edge of the earth, a small flame was waving in the wind, the defiantly stubborn flame of Wyatt's Torch, twisting, being torn and regaining its hold, not to be uprooted or extinguished....
* * *
[The following are excerpts from email exchanges between myself and John
Decades before I had tried, unsuccessfully, with snail-mails to locate John through third-party
addresses that were found. Near the start of the internet revolution, I tried again after finding his
email address. Then, again, four years later, and I finally received a reply...]
MP - 20 Jul 1996
I've found you! After all these years of wondering what happened to you, and not being able to find out, I've found you with a few clicks on the Web. Now I can try again to express to you my gratitude for your brilliant, uplifting music, which has sustained my spirit these past 25 years.
Your musical vision of life is one of a sunlit universe, sparkling with myriads of brilliant
colors, a world of excitement and adventure, of struggle and triumph, of yearning and
achievement, of tragedy and rebirth, of ever-rising aspiration, a world where even pain and death
MP - 09 Mar 2000
I have enjoyed passionately both your music and Ayn Rand's novels with the same soul for
thirty years. I know it would be hard to convince others of the thematic and stylistic harmony
between your work and hers, but I can see it clearly in, for example, your Melina's Torch and
her Wyatt's Torch. If you could compose and play the story's Concerto of Deliverance, which is
the musical theme of Atlas Shrugged. . .
. . .It would be so great!
JMC - 9 Mar 2000
Sincere thanks for your kind words. For reasons that elude me, over the years a number
have people have sent me copies of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.
MP - 13 Mar 2000
I gave it some more thought about why some people have given you _Atlas Shrugged_ and _The Fountainhead_. In one word, the reason is: Romanticism.
Romanticism is the belief that we, as human beings, have control over our minds, our lives, our happiness, our achievement -- that our lives are noble and important -- that the wonders of life are what make it exciting and sacred.
"Philosophically, Romanticism is a crusade to glorify man's existence; psychologically, it is experienced simply as the desire to make life interesting...Romantic art is the fuel and the spark plug of a man's soul; its task is to set a soul on fire and never let it go out." (Ayn Rand, _The Romantic Manifesto_.)
Some people feel the same kind of romantic sense of life in your music as they do in Ayn Rand's novels, and they wanted you to know about it. Likely, some of those same people have also tried to let Ayn Rand know about your music.
These connections are not insignificant or merely a matter of personal taste to these people, but has profound philosophical meaning. Very likely, it was Ayn Rand who first showed them the deeper meanings of life and art.
Concerto of Deliverance