Settings of the Sabbath
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Settings of the Sabbath is a piece written for large ensemble and SATB choir. The Sabbath is a sacred time for Jews that starts sundown Friday night and ends at sundown Saturday night. It is a time for reflection, prayer, and rest. Per Hebraic tradition, the prayers are usually sung monophonically which provides a unity among the congregation. These prayers are often unveiled in strophic form providing an easy method to remember the melodies and lyrics to the prayer. For more complicated prayers with multilayered meaning, however, the same melody cannot convey all of the different meanings. SATB choir and sinfonietta instrumentation add depth to the timbral and textural space available. The piece is in two movements. The first movement is based on the prayer "Lecha Dodi," which ushers in the Sabbath. It refers to “meeting the bride,” which in this case is Shabbat. The prayer is in many verses. I have chosen those that are most significant personally and that form the structure of the movement. The second movement is an interpretation of the "Sh’ma." A prayer that says “Hear o Israel the Lord is our God the Lord is one.” The word Sh’ma means “hear.” This is an important word of the prayer. I conceptualized the word to unveil over 5 minutes. The instruments represent the sound of "sh" with air like noises on the trings and blowing through the instruments. The choir reveals the "mm" and then the "ah" part of the Sh’ma phonetically. The piece becomes more rhythmic and more chaotic harmonically and rhythmically. It culminates in a cacophony commanding the listener to “hear” this prayer.
Table of Contents
Abstract -- Instrumentation -- Performance notes -- Text notes -- Settings of the Sabbath: Lecha Dodi -- Settings of the Sabbath: Sh'Ma -- Biographical vita