The Star Of The East

Manfredo Schmeidt and the Orquestra Sinfonica UCS of Caxias, Brazil premiered the full orchestra version on December 15, 2018.

This work is not based on the popular song, the older shape-note song, nor any other song or carol. These are beautiful in their way.

The present piece is new, original , instrumental music describing a universal search for truth.

Orchestration is:
1+1, 1+1, 22 2221 timp, perc, harp, strings
Piccolo, flute, oboe, English horn, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons,
2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, 1 tuba, timpani, percussion (tambourine and suspended cymbal), harp, strings

Here is a videos from one of the 2018 performances in Brazil:

The premiere of this work with chamber orchestra was part of the annual Gaudete concert at 7:30 pm, December 9, 2016 at St. Boniface Church in Anaheim, CA.

This original chamber orchestration is:

0,1+1,0,1 1110, 2 perc, str.
Oboe, English horn, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, timpani, percussions, strings.

This is the video from that 2016 concert:

(Read these notes as you play the video above, or one of the videos below)

In the West there is a Bible story of three wise men, magi, or kings, following the star of the East to the baby Jesus. In the East, the phrase “the star of the East” refers to the light seen in deep meditation, helping to direct one’s focus to greater spiritual understanding. Either way the star of the East is leading one from an initial inspiration through the search, its necessary work and all its accompanying difficulties, to the final victory of discovery. The greedy seek for themselves; the generous, for others. Perhaps the wise still follow the Star of the East for spiritual understanding.

This piece begins with the awesome feeling of a new inspiration. An idea hits us, the “light bulb” switches on, perhaps an answer to an old problem or something new to be created or discovered. Our eyes go wide as the complete wonderful-ness of the new thought permeates our mind. The rising melody grows and expands as does the excitement of the thought.

Then we jump into enthusiastic action: searching, trying, experimenting, working, creating, building, sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, but always with a determined will and one-pointed attention. The themes and accompaniment reflect confident, active pursuit.

However, as the 1% of inspiration, becomes drowned in the 99% of perspiration needed to bring an inspiration to final fruition, we can get tired, even discouraged. We may find it slow going, even seemingly pointless. But if we keep the goal in mind and if we persist, we will find ourselves stronger for passing through the test of darkness with undaunted will. This is the slower, darker music of night time, and of uncertainty. In the orchestrated version, the three wise men are represented by a trio:
1) A bassoon for Balthazar, bearer of myrrh.
2) An English horn for Melchior, bearer of frankincense.
3) An oboe for Gaspar, bearer of gold. (The order of these names varies in different sources.)

As we near the goal and see that success is close, our enthusiasm is renewed. We see the path clearly now, and we can spring into action. Finally, the victory is ours. The effort was well worth it. The music resumes its quick, certain pace, mingling the various themes, as even despairing times give us greater strength and understanding. In the end, the music is similar to the beginning; the conclusion is as we imagined it would be.

The melodies are written in the Phrygian and Locrian modes over pedal tones that could be said to reinterpret the modes. The point of the whole piece is to describe a thought journey, one that has inspired Western and Eastern philosophies; one that has examples in our inner and outer lives.

  • Contact me for the orchestral versions
  • Chamber orchestra – Oboe, English horn, Bassoon, Horn in F, Trumpet, Trombone, Percussion, Timpani, Strings and score in letter size PDFs, 8 1/2″ x 11″.
  • Full orchestra – piccolo, flute, oboe, English horn, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 Horns in F, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, Percussion, Timpani, Strings and score in ISO B4 size PDFs (9.8″ x 13.9″)

Here is a video of the score with a MIDI version playing

Enjoy this slide show of cards and stamps from my wife’s wonderful company, Stampendous,
with The Star Of The East played by Kevin Weed.

Here is the video of Kevin playing The Star Of The East.