Matti Kovler's monodrama for soprano and chamber ensemble. World premiere of the revised version. The original work has been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, New York for the Golijov/Upshaw Professional Training Workshop, 2009. Recorded live at Boston University.
Starring: Reut Rivka, soprano
Matti Kovler - piano
Diamanda La Berge Dramm - violin,
Sam Gould - viola,
Robyn Cho - clarinet,
Borey Shin - accordion,
Yoni Draiblate - cello,
Jason Coleman - cello,
Kathryn Schulmeister - bass
Michael Roberts - percussion
Sarah Fylak - electronics
Original Text: Janice Silverman Rebibo
Produced by BU Committee for Scripture and the Arts, with the support of BU Humanities Foundation and the Jewish Cultural Endowment at BU.
Here Comes Messiah!
a monodrama for a soprano/actress and chamber ensemble
Composer Matti Kovler first heard the Hassidic chant Peliah, common to both of this evening’s works, from a friend in Jerusalem. She sang him the melody that her grandfather, Rabbi Eliahu Ki Tov had sung to her. Like much of the Hassidic folk repertoire, the musical motto of Peliah reflects the meaning of the text. (An interval of a rising third immediately followed by a descending third corresponds to “If I ascend up to heaven / You are there, if I make my bed in the underworld / You are there.” Psalms 139: 6–8.) This mirroring, in addition to the somewhat strange quality of the melody itself, captured the composer.
Here Comes Messiah!, commissioned from Kovler by Carnegie Hall for the 2009 Upshaw/Golijov Workshop, follows a young woman through three stages that culminate in giving birth and oscillate between comedy and revelation. In the hospital soon to give birth, she is accosted by “chattering behind her back”. She insists all is normal and as it should be. In Act 2, she can no longer deny her fate and her fear rises. She attempts to push down her fear with fantasies about her “cotton candy”, her sweet baby, and the niceties for him. A frightening vision of a descending falcon seems to threaten her child (the text builds a gradual allusion to the falcon and other elements in W.B. Yeat’s The Second Coming). Transitioning, both in terms of labor and delivery and into the final Act of the piece, she suffers the acute pain of being chosen and asks the ultimate questions, “Why me? Why my child?”. Act 3 brings her through the monumental throes of this seemingly unattainable childbirth which give over to the wondrous secrets of Peliah.