Saturday in the First Week of Lent

by Theodore Wiprud

Psalm 119:1-8
Deuteronomy 26:16-19
Matthew 5:43-48

YOU THEREFORE, MUST BE AS PERFECT, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Ah, the perennial reminder: You fall short; keep going! There is always more slope ahead, even when the top seems near, for the Father is perfection, and by definition, none can approach his perfection. Why such an impossible goal?

And yet, in art such perfection is a way of life. When writing a piece of music, I am haunted by an ineffable sense of what it needs to be, the natural form for that particular music. I write and write, strip away and strip away, seeking the essence, often racking my brain for what should be obvious but is still hidden.

When a work is premiered I get a clearer view of what I was after. (It feels more like “what was after me.”) I clarify the piece so players and audience will more immediately grasp what I have tried to understand and convey.

If my work develops from piece to piece, it is because the conceptions become clearer and stronger. But the process of composing is always driven by the feeling that I must attain an ideal that has somehow occurred to me. I apply a perfectionism that can prevent me from being completely satisfied with a finished piece, but that never prevents me from continuing in the quest or recognizing that the process itself is deeply sustaining.

Can I apply the same focus and passion to my relations with other people and God?