Special Interviews
A Beautiful Parable

Fred Karlin is a composer who has won both Oscar and Emmy Awards, along with many other honors for his music. He has written innumerable works, including scores for the films "West World" and "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman." He is the composer of the fantastic musical dramatic epic"The Peace Seeker" performed at this concert.

Excerpt of an interview with Fred Karlin, conducted by Quoc Thai and Quynh Huong from Overseas Radio Saigon on November 16, 1998 (Originally in English)

Quoc Thai: Why did you entitle the piece "The Peace Seeker"?

Fred Karlin: Well, because we're all peace seekers. Some of us are more consciously doing that and are more aware of it than others, but we all really want that. And those who don't realize they want peace, want happiness. She relates the two together as one: bliss, happiness, peace; it's the inner peace that we are talking about. I think that we all believe in our hearts that if we found inner peace that there would be world peace. So, it has really the possibility of quite a major impact. I took that line from Her, mentioning that for all peace seekers, there's the wisdom of this Sage, realizing that we can look within us to find the Way, and I related the rest of Her poems to that.

.........The piece has a lot to do with compassion. Several of the characters in it who sing these folk/rock songs suffer greatly; they suffer so much from everybody else's suffering around them that they hardly know what to do. And so one poem, which is now a song, entitled "Cannot Do A Thing With My Heart," starts off with that character portrayed in the poem wanting to give her heart away because she just can't do anything with it. She says, "What can I do for the world? What can I do for my people? Always full of troubles, always full of sorrows." Her heart is breaking from that, this character.

So, we all asked that. Right now, there is just this moment the horrendous natural disaster down in Central America, and in Middle America, in the Midwest. And it's always something. So, how do we deal with all this? How do we get over it? What do we do with our compassion? It may be an unanswered question: "What do we do with this?" Well, this Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association, interestingly enough, they're a group that goes into these disaster areas to help, with hands-on help, not just funding, which they do as well. But also, they just dig in and help, just as Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn went down to Central America the other day to help by way of example. The piece helps to underscore in a way, too, that we can either stand around and suffer, or we can look for a tranquility and peace and meaning in the world inside us. The songs are folk/rock songs that everybody will enjoy; also, music sometimes leaves you with something that's not just abstract. I hope to leave them with that feeling.



Excerpt of an interview with Fred Karlin, conducted by
Liz Pennington for "In Touch With Orange County",
KEZY 95.9FM (Originally in English)

Interview with Fred Karlin (middle) on KEZY 95.9FM. on November 10, 1998

FK: I feel very privileged myself to be able to have worked on this piece and written it for many reasons. But, it's very appropriate for me because of my dramatic background all these years, to be able to work with these poems, which I have selected and organized so that they have a certain sensibility together. I have spun them together so they mean something, and I've given them the title "The Peace Seeker," which is really a line from one of Supreme Master Ching Hai's poems. Her poem starts, "Once upon a time, a true peace lover wandered around the many worlds in search of eternal happiness." What this poem tells us, basically, is that happiness and peace are within each of us and that the reason we all suffer so much, as we may do from time to time, is because we are looking outside ourselves. Suppose if everybody were to connect with themselves in that way, there would be nothing but peace and happiness.

LP: It starts with yourself and that's very beautiful.

FK: Yeah, it is, and the other side of this, for the Supreme Master Ching Hai, the poet, She describes various ways in which we come face to face with the darker part of life because of this, because of not having that connection. I suppose that is kind of a reverse example illustrating that if we look inside and really make that personal connection, we wouldn't, and we'd stop seeking happiness without - whether it's fame and fortune, which one of Her lyrics talks about. We would not have to confront this darkness, and so the subjects of the five songs have to do with a character, who is compassionate; many of them have to do with compassion.

The first one is a character, who is metaphorically looking at a stone statue, and actually, she feels coming from that inanimate object such compassion for everybody's suffering, that she feels it very, very intensely. Each one of these songs deals with another aspect, whether it is the aspect of separation from one's heart, or the selection of security and money at the risk, and sometimes the fact, of losing touch with your own heart. These are painful things to come face to face with, and they become, in a way, even more accessible through the use of music. That's the power of music. That is why it helps with film and any other dramatic media tremendously.