Instrumentation: Shofar (Yemenite style, Eb pitch), 3 hrns, 2 trpts, 2 trmbs, timpani
Commission: Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival and Jewish Music Commission of LA
Katz Theatre, Jewish Community Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Teruah, meaning joyous shout, is the title of my piece for shofar, brass ensemble and timpani. Co-commissioned by the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival and the Jewish Music Commission of Los Angeles, Teruah celebrates the holiday of Rosh HaShanah. The piece includes the major shofar calls associated with the holiday: the Teruah, a series of nine very short blasts; the Shevarim, which is a group of three broken blasts, the Tekiah, which is one long blast; and the Tekiah Gedolah, an especially long blast. Here I use these sounds, and the brass ensemble and timpani respond to them, taking up the joyous shout.
I have also drawn on a beautiful Rosh HaShanah melody, composed by Avraham Tzvi Kubowitzki, my husband Michael Kubovy’s paternal grandfather. The melody’s words are part of the Rosh HaShanah service relating to the blowing of the shofar. The words express the hope that the Lord will “understand and listen, look at and pay attention to” our plea. Mr. Kubowitzki immigrated from a shtetl in Lithuania to Brussels, where he was a cantor. He composed many songs that were sung by his sons, and some were passed on to his grandchildren who heard and remembered them. I’m grateful to Michael for sharing this one, and dedicate the piece to him and his family. I also wish to thank Ron Schneider of the Pittsburgh Symphony for his excellent editorial suggestions.–JS
“…performer Ronald Schneider played the viusally more spectacular impala horn, which only lent to the grandeur of Judith Shatin’s Teruah, a premiere commissioned by the festival and the Jewish Muic Commission of Los Angeles. Similar to her fascinating chamber work, Elijah’s Chariot, which can be heard at the festival concert Tuesday, the Charlottesville, VA-based Shatin wonderfully used the other instruments in Teruah to extend the essence of the shofar.
In this case, she did so with a small collection of brass and timpani. After an opening round of stout tekiah blasts by Schneider, the brass played a dark, dissonant and gritty chord, infused with flutter tonguing, creating a musical metaphor for how the shofar has inspired worshippers during the High Holidays for centuries. A gorgeous Rosh Hashanah melody that emerged in the horns only drove that further, serving as the emotional response to the sound.
The piece ended with an impressively long tekiah gedolah by Schneider, but in between it was much more than a fanfare. Shatin… is a thoughtful and inventive composer who doesn’t write in an academic, rebarbative style. Her music pulls one in with artistic embrace.”
“The world premiere of Judith Shatin’s Teruah opened the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival Wednesday on a high note that the concert maintained to its conclusion.
Shatin’s imaginative composition set the shofar’s music in the context of arresting brass and timpani commentary that evoked the conflicts of Israel’s recent and ancient history. Symphony hornist Ron Schneider produced a stunningly big and rounded sound on the shofar, playing the short motifs that are heard at High Holy Days religious services.”–JS