Songs of War and Peace

Excerpt: “And How My Brother is Cain”


Instrumentation: SATB chorus + piano. Also see version for SATB + chamber orch:  fl, ob, cl, bsn, 2 hrns, trpt, trmb, perc, piano
Duration: 16:30
Commission: Orchestration commissioned by Minnesota Center Chorale & Maestra J. Michele Edwards
Premiere: 5/4/08
Minnesota Center Chorale
J. Michele Edwards, Conductor
St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. Cloud, MN

Program Note:
Songs of War and Peace (1998), is a setting of four poems by major Israeli poets, with translations by outstanding American ones, on the ongoing topic of war and peace. I chose poems collected in the compelling book After the First Rain, a title which, in colloquial Hebrew, also means “After the Shooter.” Published by Dryad Press, these poems represent the sadness and shock of the post-Rabin enivronment, although some sing of hope as well. I chose four poems: “And How My Brother is Cain” (Azriel Kaufman, trans. Barbara Golberg), “The Rain is Ready to Fall” (Eytan Eytan, trans. Merrill Leffler); “Peace is a Sea” (Ella Bat-Tzion, trans Barbara Goldberg) and “Peace Poem After a Ugarithic Inscription” (Eli Netzer, trans Moshe Dor). The first poem is one of devastation and its aftermath, and the shock of Rabin being killed by a Jew; the second poem is one of ambivalence and acceptance, and refers to the tremendous change that the first rain brings to the arid landscape; the third sings of hope; and the fourth brings a command to end the cycle of war. I composed Songs of War and Peace in commemoration of Israel’s Fiftieth Anniversary. It was premiered at the University of Virginia and then presented at the Carter Peace Center in Atlanta, Georgia as part of the 20th Anniversary celebration of the signing of the Camp David Accords. It has been performed by a number of other choruses, including The New Amsterdam Singers and the Alexandria Chorale. The version for SATB + Chamber Orchestra was commissioned by the Minnesota Chorale and Maestra J. Michele Edwards and premiered on 5/4/08.–JS


Share This

Copy Link to Clipboard