Since ancient days, Jewish texts have mourned, celebrated and questioned. SFCA explores this world through rarely heard Yiddish and Ladino folk music, liturgical works, Psalms, songs, and chant from many centuries. Featuring Ivor Davies’ Prayers from the Ark; works by Paul Ben-Haim, Stephen Glass, Joshua Jacobson, David Nowakowsky, Arnold Schönberg, Malcolm Singer, and Karen Tarlow; and six world premieres.
The most unusual and ground-breaking works will be two premieres by prominent young composers. Berkeley-based Robin Estrada has set, in Tagalog, the beloved Ecclesiastes 3 text (“To everything a season…) which uses traditional Filipino musical elements to build wonderfully complex textures. Composer-Not-in-Residence Shawn Crouch has created a driving, powerful work in which 21 ancient words are heard in 20 different arrangements with the proper sequence heard only at the very end.
Four additional world premieres are by Composer-in–Residence John Kelley, local composers Tina Harrington and Michael Kaulkin, and SFCA’s under 30 New Voices Project competition winner for 2016, Oakland-based James Tecuatl-Lee.
This concert borrows its title from 20th English composer Ivor Davies’ brilliant set of pieces, Prayers from the Ark. The work sets six poems written by Carmen Bernos De Gastzold (trans. Rumer Godden) in the 1940s during the German occupation of France. Each prayer expresses the personal perspective of an animal in Noah’s Ark, evoking the uncertainty of Europe during this perilous time. SFCA Artistic Director Magen Solomon calls Davies’ setting “a perfect marriage between text and music.” She explains: “with these six short character studies, the work creates a microcosm of texture and melody and belongs in the same category with Britten’s Five Flower Songs or Hindemith’s Six Chansons. Better known in England, Prayers from the Ark deserves to be frequently performed in the US as well. The pieces are not flashy or quirky, just spectacularly good choral music.”
Click to view repertoire list.