for solo guitar (2015)
Duration: 13 minutes
1. At Dawn
2. Noon Prayer
3. Afternoon: With drive–with repose
4. Evening Prayer
5. Prayer at the End of the Day
Shared Prayers is a suite of meditations inspired by a particular time and place in the history of the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. The place was the Iberian Peninsula; the time is now known as La Convivencia. It was a period in medieval history when the peninsula was under Muslim rule, during which time Christians and Jews were allowed to worship freely. It was also a time where people of all three faiths contributed to the court of the caliphate and a vibrant exchange of ideas was cultivated. This led to great achievements in the arts and advancements in science, mathematics, and medicine. In Shared Prayers, I imagine the faithful of each religion performing their daily prayer traditions: the salat of Islam, the three daily prayers of Judaism, the Catholic Book of Hours. They pray to the same God, with the same sense of devotion, at the same times of day.
I grew up in a less tolerant tradition. the Christianity of my childhood condemned anyone to hell who didn’t agree with their particular ideas on God and salvation. They held a worldview of us-against-them, the “saved” versus the “damned.” In this work, I hope to show that there are more commonalities than differences between people and cultures, whether in large concepts like “God” or in smaller gestures like private devotion.
Matthew Gillen, guitar
Bates Recital Hall, The University of Texas at Austin
April 27, 2018