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Abandon Fear

"Abandon hope, abandon fear.” Hope and fear are delusions that take us away from our ability to experience the life that is in front of us.


In Buddhism there is a saying, “abandon hope, abandon fear.” By remaining focused on the present moment, one avoids attachment to fantasies, whether positive or negative. These delusions–hope and fear–take us away from our ability to experience the life that is in front of us.

In fall 2007 I started a meditation practice. This practice has helped me experience my feelings, both physical and emotional, in a non-judgmental, balanced way. By sitting with my experience in a concentrated fashion, I understand that my emotions are real, but that I do not have to be afraid of them. Negative feelings pass if one is patient and watchful. In addition, I experience the interrelationships that exist between my environment and myself. This emerging spiritual practice brings me peace.

Earlier this year I published an essay in the New York Times, “My Dark Materials: The Music of Depression,” which traces the dynamic relationship between depression and meditation in my music. Over time, my music has changed as a result of my evolving understanding of how I can shape my relationship with my feelings and emotions.

I make this application to New Music USA in order to secure funding for my first piece for full orchestra, Abandon Fear, which will explore the themes delineated above, looking at the ways in which meditation can ameliorate depression. The feedback that I received after the publication of the New York Times article made it clear that using composition as a tool for understanding depression is one way to widen the impact of contemporary music and intimately connect with a broader audience. Although I have written for chamber orchestra, Abandon Fear will be my first full orchestra piece (double winds and brass), making it a significant work for me. I anticipate the piece will be 8-12 minutes in duration.

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), with whom I’ve long collaborated, will premiere Abandon Fear in their Fall 2015 season. Shortly thereafter, we’ll record the piece. In preparation for the premiere I will deliver score and parts to them by February 1, 2015.

This piece will complete a CD of my orchestra music performed and recorded by BMOP, which includes two pieces recorded in 2012—Dream Lightly (for electric guitar and chamber orchestra) and Tender Illusions (for octet)—and my newest piece, for chamber orchestra, commissioned by the Jebediah Foundation New Music Commissions, to be performed and recorded in Spring 2015. BMOP Sound—BMOP’s own label—will release the CD. This will be my fourth CD, and the first of my music for large ensembles, making this commission from New Music USA tremendously important for my career.


Project Media

My Dark Materials
Features: Keeril Makan

“New York Times” essay that traces the dynamic relationship between composition, depression, and meditation. Links to musical excerpts are embedded in the PDF.

Start and End Dates



Boston, Massachusetts

Project Created By

Cambridge, Massachusetts
Described by The New Yorker as “an arrestingly gifted young American composer,” and by The New York Times as “consistently stimulating,” The Boston Globe portrays Keeril Makan as a composer “whose music deserves to be more widely heard.” Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Luciano Berio Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome,…

In Collaboration With

Malden, Massachusetts


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