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Rondo in A Major

Rome 2022

Created as a moment for contemplation on humans' effects on the earth and the infinitely complex relationship between cause and effect.

"The Ephemeral Present" refers to both the invaluable gift of human life and to the transience of humanity.

The composition was inspired by Sharon Olds's Poem "Ode to Dirt," and first appeared in Odes, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2016, and is reprinted with the permission and thanks of the poet:

Dear dirt, I am sorry I slighted you,

I thought that you were only the background

for the leading characters—the plants

and animals and human animals.

It’s as if I had loved only the stars

and not the sky which gave them space

in which to shine. Subtle, various,

sensitive, you are the skin of our terrain,

you’re our democracy. When I understood

I had never honored you as a living

equal, I was ashamed of myself,

as if I had not recognized

a character who looked so different from me,

but now I can see us all, made of the

same basic materials—

cousins of that first exploding from nothing—


in our intricate equation together. O dirt,

help us find ways to serve your life,

you who have brought us forth, and fed us,

and who at the end will take us in

and rotate with us, and wobble, and orbit.

Visual Artwork

Ralph Jackson


Sharon Olds

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