L Peter Deutsch
Dance to the Revolution
Emma Goldman was one of the seminal writers and activists in the development of early-20th-century anarchist thought. What drew me to her writing was her inclusion of interpersonal relationships, not only political or economic ones, in the vision of ideal society.
The handclaps, and the rhythmic and syncopated octaves in both the piano and the vocal parts, give it some of the rowdy energy that I associate with Goldman. "Dance to the Revolution" is more homophonic than most of my writing, intended to evoke the shouted slogans of a mass movement, as is the deliberate use of "ain't."
As in "Where Everything is Music," the percussion and string bass in this arrangement add to the rhythmic dynamism of the piece.
L Peter Deutsch
Where Everything is Music
The lyrics for "Where Everything is Music" are excerpted from a poem by Rumi, the great 13th-century Persian poet and mystic, in the classic and well-loved translation by Coleman Barks. As with much of Rumi's writing, the text asks us to recognize the greater reality of the spiritual compared with the physical world.
I intend this piece, like some of my other work for voice and a single instrument, to be more of a dialogue between the chorus and the instrument than for "accompanied chorus." While the piano provide harmonic and rhythmic accompaniment, the saxophone both serves as a counterpoint to the chorus and enjoys two solo passages of its own.
The arrangement recorded here includes added percussion and string bass, which contribute to the rhythmic energy of the music without changing its basic character.
At the Edge of Great Quiet
The four poems in this composition are from the collection, poetryALASKAwomen: Top of the World (ed. Suzanne Summerville and published by Arts Venture, 1993—limited to only 600 copies). According to the Foreword, the book was “conceived as a way to make a lasting contribution to the writers of Alaska, to make their works available to a wide audience of readers and composers, and to inspire new works of music and art. It will be impossible to know just where these poems will travel … but the influence of this little book may be considerable.” At the very least, four of them have travelled as far as Cuba, and with this recording, their journey will continue.
The poems are by three different poets: Mary Kancewick (Anchorage), Leah Aronow-Brown (Fairbanks), and Louise Gallop (Anchorage). Since the commission was from Sigma Alpha Iota Philanthropies (specifically, the Delta Mu Chapter of SAI at Temple University) to be premiered by Temple’s women’s choir, I selected poetry by women. The poems suggest two recurring themes: the intimate relationship between people and nature, and resilience.
The texture is SSAA (soprano I and II and alto I and II). In “Roads” the protagonist reaches the “end of the road,” meant both literally and figuratively, but finds a way to move on. Some of the “open” harmonies in the song suggest the “wilderness” in the text. In “There Were Suddenly Two Stones” the texture is reduced to two parts (SA) for most of the song. These parts weave in and out of each other, suggesting the two rivers (or metaphorically, people) that “flow differently.” “On a Day of White Trees” describes a desolate wintry day; the musical depiction is sparse, haunting and literally “windy” (requiring whispering and wind sounds from the choir). The pianist is required to hold the pedal down throughout the song, creating an eerie echo effect. The many passages in octaves and unisons suggest the bleakness of this “edge of great quiet.” “Out of Wind, Out of Sun”—the most optimistic poem—is set with upbeat polyrhythmic ostinatos, culminating in a euphoric climax as “this basket rounds and grows full as the mother who weaves it.” The poem confirms the work that women do in making art out of the nature that surrounds them—certainly a metaphor for creativity universally.
J. A. Kawarsky
Sacred Rights, Sacred Song
Sacred Rights, Sacred Song, a multi-movement for narrator, soloist, orchestra and rock band envisions Israel as a healthy Jewish democracy in which the spiritual civil rights of all Jews are protected; Judaism is expressed and celebrated freely and equally by men and women and in its myriad forms of observance; and matters of personal status and spirit are governed by a Public Jewish Law that welcomes vibrancy and creativity. Fran Gordon and J.A. Kawarsky were the founders of this work. The entire cantata has been performed several times throughout the United States and Israel. Composers include J.A. Kawarsky, Naomi Less, Jerome B. Kopmar, Elliot Z. Levine, Benjie Schiller, and Gerald Cohen. The entire work is orchestrated by J.A. Kawarsky.
The Three Movements included here include:
MUJER REZANDO EN LA PARED (Woman at the Wall) telling of the situation at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, where women are not allowed to pray equally and openly as their Orthodox male counterparts.
Any discussion of equal rights in the land of Israel and Palestine must include a remark (in this case a song) about the lack of equal rights between Arab and Jew. NUESTRA ORACIÓN SAGRADA (A Sacred Shared Prayer) hopes for a change in status-quo in the very near future, and future generations.
NUESTRA SAGRADA CANCIÓN (Our Sacred Song), the final song in Sacred Rights, Sacred Song, asks the help of the listener to make change for the better in Israel, the Jewish homeland.
Sacred Rights, Sacred Song’s mission is to educate the North American Jewish community about challenges to religious freedom in Israeli society and motivate them to provide moral, visible and financial support to promote a Jewish democratic society based on the notions of gender equality and freedom of worship.
This setting of El Lunar was inspired by my visit to Havana in November, 2015, during which I recorded some of my choral music with Alina Orraca and Schola Cantorum Coralina. The premiere performance was given by the Missouri State University Chorale, conducted by Cameron LaBarr, in March, 2017.
The poetry of Juan Clemente Zenea (1832-1871) is influenced by lyricism and Romanticism, often reflecting his passion for life and his Cuban homeland. He lived most of his tragically short life in Cuba, but was forced to leave for several stints in New Orleans, New York, and Mexico due to his political activities against the Spanish government. After secretly returning to Cuba to support the rebellion of 1868, he was eventually captured by Spanish troops and shot to death.
We are Dreamers
We Are Dreamers sets a text from Psalm 126, whose theme is the return of exiles to Zion. Sung on Sabbath and holidays to introduce the grace after a meal, this psalm has sustained generations of Jews in exile. Communities throughout the Diaspora have created their own melodies for the text, influenced by the music of the culture where they lived. Many of these communities have fulfilled the psalm’s prophecy of returning to the land of Israel.
In this composition, I have selected three contrasting melodies to express the process of exile and return, as well as the universal longing for a sense of wholeness and connection.
The music begins with a plaintive Salonikan Greek melody in the clarinet, infused with yearning for return. The atmosphere has a dreamlike quality enhanced by the vibraphone and sustained choral harmonies. It is the call of a lover for her beloved from afar. Gradually the chorus emerges, as if coming out of exile, leading to an ecstatic vision of reunion with trills and tremolos in the clarinet and piano. This gives way to a dumbek solo and a lively Yemenite version of the psalm. Here the dumbek joins the chorus in rhythmic shifts as the music frees itself from the bonds of exile and revels in the joy of return. In the midst of this energy the tempo slows to allow a melody from Morocco to emerge. Recalling the lover’s yearning from the opening, the Moroccan melody expresses the sweetness of intimacy when two lovers finally reunite. Soon the Yemenite tune sneaks back via the clarinet, introducing a contrapuntal choral climax and triumphant ending.
We Are Dreamers was commissioned in honor of the 50th anniversary of the state of Israel by a consortium of Jewish choral ensembles led by Joshua Jacobson and Zamir Chorale of Boston, along with the Rottenberg Chorale of New York; Gratz College Choir of Pennsylvania; Zemer Chai of Washington, DC; and Kol Dodi of New Jersey. It grew out of a six-week residency in Israel during spring of 1997 sponsored by the South Carolina Arts Commission and Hillel at the University of South Carolina. The melodies are from recordings found at the National Sound Archives of the Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem, Israel.
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