‘Blue Pearl : A One World Oratorio’ – the extraordinary World Premiere took place on Saturday 14th May 2022, at St Giles’ Cripplegate, London.
Text by Ken Wilber, Thich Nhat Hanh and Steve Banks. Music by Steve Banks.
THE BEAUTIFUL FILM OF THIS EXTRAORDINARY WORLD PREMIERE IS AVAILABLE TO VIEW ON YOUTUBE: CLICK HERE
Blue Pearl is a ground-breaking new sacred choral work for the 21st century. It expresses and celebrates the unity of the earth, and of humanity: ‘Blue Pearl’ is what the earth looks like from space. A fragile, living planet in the unimaginable vastness of space.
We live at a time when humanity needs to act ‘in concert’ – together – as it has never done before. We need music which brings us together as a human family, giving voice to, and celebrating our common humanity. ‘Blue Pearl’ is such a piece of music.
Blue Pearl expresses an understanding of spirituality which transcends individual faiths and traditions- a ‘human’ spirituality, which embraces the best of the ancient spiritual traditions and modern science and psychology.
The world premiere was on 14th May 2022, performed by the London Mozart Players, Excelsis and Vox Farnham chamber choirs conducted by Rob Lewis, at St Giles’ Cripplegate, London. Soloists: Felicity Hayward (soprano), Luthien Brackett (mezzo-soprano), David de Winter (tenor) and Geoff Williams (bass).
“Steve Banks’s ‘Blue Pearl Oratorio’ is a wonderful, exciting musical composition created as a manifestation of his Integral understanding. It’s a superb, exhilarating, magical piece of music that takes one through any number of different experiential realities, a manifestation of Steve’s own wider and deeper awareness. Sit back and enjoy a rich trip through these effervescent realities in your own case, highly recommended.” – Ken Wilber, The Integral Vision
“LMP has always been thrilled to give the first performances of new compositions that expand the classical repertoire, and we are delighted to be giving the world premiere of ‘Blue Pearl: A One World Oratorio’ with the wonderful Excelsis chamber choir, conducted by Rob Lewis. In this piece, composer Steve Banks uses varied musical genres and texts, taking the listener on an inspiring musical exploration of spirituality. London Mozart Players look forward to this collaboration, bringing to life this beautiful, evocative music.” – Julia Desbruslais, Executive Director, London Mozart Players (www.londonmozartplayers.com)
Blue Pearl is inspired by the writing of American mystic/psychologist/philosopher/scientist Ken Wilber. His ‘Integral’ theory, developed since the 1970’s, is a ‘theory of everything’: it is a meta-theory, which links all fields of human knowledge together, in a very specific way. In particular, Wilber has integrated the ancient spiritual wisdom traditions of the East with the modern (since Freud) Western understanding of psychology, in the process creating a new understanding of both. This has led to Wilber being hailed as the first ‘world philosopher’.
Which is what enables ‘Blue Pearl’, inspired by this new understanding, to be a ‘one world’ oratorio.
Wilber has given us, for the first time, an understanding of spirituality which transcends individual spiritual traditions, creating the possibility of a ‘human spirituality’. The spiritual domain is like one mountain, with many paths up it. At the bottom, all you can see is your own path. The nearer you get to the top, the clearer it becomes that there are many paths, all leading to the same summit. If people on the lower slopes talk to, and believe, the people who have experience of the higher slopes, then they might well change to a ‘one mountain’ understanding.
“A remarkable achievement. In this work, Steve isn’t simply describing or illustrating an idea but reaching out (and in) to evoke and bring to life these ideas, points of view and states of mind. Ambitious it certainly is, but offered with remarkable sincerity, depth of personal knowledge and experience – all or which permeate the writing of this extraordinary work most compellingly. The music is, by turns, witty, moving, exciting, and transporting.” – Julian Marshall, composer. ARCM, FHEA
Blue Pearl is in the tradition of sacred music for choir, soloists and orchestra, from Spem in Alium, by Thomas Tallis, to Handel’s Messiah, and all the ‘Requiem’s – Fauré, Mozart, Verdi, Karl Jenkins, and so on… But it is something new, contemporary. It breaks new ground.
Its newness stems from the new meanings, the new understandings, which Wilber’s Integral theory creates. Just as Freud, for example, created new meaning through his new theory of the psyche (and new movements in art emerged in response), so Wilber’s Integral theory creates new understanding of everything, in particular – for ‘Blue Pearl’ – a new understanding of spirituality: one that integrates it with the whole of human development, and with evolution; the whole of evolution.
In composing music to express these new meanings, Steve has intuitively developed new constellations of musical forms. He found intuitively that he had to use varied styles of music, for example, in order to convey different stages of consciousness. He has used ‘keys’ in very particular ways. And he has integrated silence within the music, as a musical (formless) ‘form’, also in very particular way.
Listening to Blue Pearl will take you on a journey into the mystery of the Kosmos, into the depths and heights of consciousness, into the heart of what it is to be human, and into the transformative wonder that is to be found in sacred silence.
“Blue Pearl is a wonderfully creative new piece that integrates diverse influences to shape a musical, reflective journey that is consoling, challenging, witty, tuneful and inspiring. The piece beautifully enacts the profound, contemporary and perennial philosophy that underlies it, opening up an experience of enlightening, transformative potential. I warmly recommend it as an innovative artistic contribution to the emerging spirituality of our times.”– Chris Cullen, Mindfulness trainer and teacher, Oxford Mindfulness Centre; teacher of Insight Meditation