for Chorus and Orchestra

Shulamit Ran

Text: The Book of Psalms
Duration: 00:07:00
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

"Supplications" is a work I consider to be the seed of a large-scale composition I envision tackling at some future point which would posit the eternal human quest for faith with the challenges of life?s often inexplicably cruel realities. Such a work would draw on multiple sources for its texts, juxtaposing quotes from Psalms and Ecclesiastes with more recent writings.

In "Supplications", a 7-minute precursor of the larger anticipated composition, the Shma (Shma Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad - Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God the Lord is One), the verse from Deuteronomy that functions as the central article of the Jewish faith, is heard at several of the work?s junctions, interspersed with fragments from three different Psalms.

To me, one of the truly striking elements in the Psalms, in addition to their great poetic beauty and moral depth, is the all-encompassing diversity of attitudes, sentiments and affects with which the Divine is approached. Indeed, as has often been commented upon, it is one of the extraordinary things about the Jewish religion that confronting God, even to the point of challenging God?s actions and judgment, is acceptable.

In "Supplications" my intent was to create a narrative, which may be likened to a one-way conversation with God which, ultimately, is also a journey of self-revelation. It opens with the universally beloved Psalm 23 ?The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want? (Adonai roi lo echsar) being gently intoned. From the supreme security of God?s benevolence, and after the Shma is first heard though, it is Psalm 22, ?My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Eili, eili, lama azavtani) that surfaces, questioning, pleading, becoming progressively more confrontational. Following a second, more extended ?Shma,? Psalm 115, ?Not unto us, O Lord, but unto thy name give glory, for thy truth, and for thy truth?s sake? (Lo lanu, Adonai) is expressive of a quest for a higher meaning, a transcendence of one?s personal trials. This leads finally to the serene acceptance of Psalm 22 in ?But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel? (Ve-ata kadosh).

I chose to set my music to the original Hebrew text, but also, often simultaneously, to English. The translation appears in the Friedlander Bible, first published in England in 1884. The bi-lingual volume I consulted was given to me, just before I first came to the U.S. from Israel, by the late General Haim Laskov, the fifth Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, a person who was a great admirer and eternal student of the Bible, and a true music lover whose support of my music in my early youth will always be remembered. His words to me, when he gave me this volume, were: ?Take care of it, and it will take care of you?.

"Supplications" (for Chorus and Orchestra) is scored for piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (one doubling Eb clarinet), 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, timpani, percussion, strings, and chorus.

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by American Composers Orchestra, Steven Sloane, Music Director, Robert Beaser, Artistic Director
Composition Date 2002
Orchestration SATB Chorus; 3(Picc.) 2 2(dbl. A Cl. / Eb Cl.) 2 - 4 3 3(B.Tbn.) 0: Timp. 4Perc. Str.
Premiere November 3, 2002 Isaac Stern Auditorium Carnegie Hall New York, New York American Composers Orchestra New York Virtuoso Singers Steven Sloan, conductor

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