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Among the Laughing Stars

Among the Laughing Stars is a musical tribute to the memory Robert Poli and his surviving wife, Laura Slay.  Jeanne Sinquefield, who commissioned the work, informed that Laura had specifically requested that I write the tribute.  Though I had never gotten the chance to meet Robert in life, it became quickly apparent as I learned about him that the living world had lost a great soul that day.  I was honored that I should be entrusted with a work of such importance.
Much of my inspiration for the piece came from a letter, printed below, by Robert’s brother which was read at his funeral.  Rather than focus on the sadness of loss, I chose to portray death as a beautiful mystery, and a time of peaceful reflection for those who remain.  And while the heavy subject is often met with fear and sadness, the calm, bittersweet universality prevails as each of us must make peace with the fact our time on this earth is only temporary.  And so the piece is marked with a slow, meditative air, free-flowing and majestic.  The energy increases as the uncertainty builds until the climax of the piece where the flute breaks free in a soaring flourish, representing the soul’s ascension to the world beyond our knowledge.  All that is left for the survivors are the shared memories and the gratefulness for having known the departed until they, too, must make the great Journey.
Dearest Brother,
            You came into this World in Sagittarius, Year of the Horse. A wild, galloping Centaur with Flaming Red Hair, a love for animals, and a drive to protect and care for the abandoned four legged and feather winged spirits of the Earth. You surrounded yourself with Flying Dragons: Symbols of Celestial Good Fortune and Mystic Protection. You left this life, riding the Dragon of the old year, into the Vastness of Space; soaring among the laughing Stars and Galaxies you loved, to meld back into The Source of All.
            Hear me now, if your Spirit still hover o'er us who remain caught in this mortal illusion you have cast off. We loved you dearly, and in our pain and sorrow we cry; not for YOU, Spirit in Bliss, but for ourselves, who, as Shades in Hades, have lost your light.
            As Virgil to Dante, you were my guide through the Darkness toward the light. And, as Virgil, you have Vanished in an instant, leaving us to find other guides and paths to follow.
            You inspired me by your love of Science, Physics, Astronomy, Philosophy, Metaphysics, Music, Art.....A True Renaissance Master in a dissolute Age of Gross Materialism and Violence: A Shining Beacon of Reason and Illumination for what is Truly Valuable in our World and Society. Always full of Joy and Humor.
            Though I was the Elder and you Junior, you protected me, taught me, guided me, helped me. You were my Brother, my Friend.
            As you Soar, like a Taoist Immortal on your Dragon, through the Vastness of Space, leaving us only your discarded, broken shell, know you were loved by all you met and whose lives you touched. Our pain at your loss will pass in time, but not the flame you have lit in our Hearts, which will remain through the years.
            Goodbye Brother; Farewell; Adieu.....for a short while, 'till our Spirits Soar and Dance together again, Forever, among the Laughing Stars.
—John Poli, January 2013

Duration: 8 min.
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