״השתקפויות״ היא יצירה לכינור ומחשב. ביצירה זו המחשב מתפקד כמו מראה על ידי כך שהוא מקליט את נגינת הכינור ומשמיע את מה שהוקלט דרך 4 רמקולים הניצבים לצד הנגן. הקלטות אלה אינן אקראיות, הן קורות במקומות מסוימים מאד ומושמעות חזרה במקומות אחרים. לעיתים דבר זה יוצר ריבוי קולות שבהן לא ניתן להבדיל בין הכינור שמנגן בזמן אמת להקלטה שלו (ההקלטה עצמה לא עוברת עיבוד ומושמעת מהרמקולים בדיוק כפי שנוגנה). למעשה, בקטעים מסוימים נשמע כאילו מדובר באנסמבל של כינורות ולא בכינור בודד. כדי שהאפקט יהיה מוצלח מצד הסולן נדרשים דיוק וריכוז מירבי - מה שינוגן זה מה שיושמע.
היצירה נכתבה בשנת 2014 עבור יעל ברולסקי ומוקדשת לה.
היה לי לזכות גדולה להפגש ולשוחח מספר פעמים עם יוסף טל לאורך שנות התשעים. בפגישות המרתקות הללו שוחחנו בעיקר על סוגיות שונות במוסיקה. המוסיקה האלקטרונית והפוטנציאל הטמון בה תפסו בשיחות אלו מקום נכבד. טל היה מחלוצי המוסיקה האלקטרונית בארץ ובעולם ורעיונותיו בתחום זה היו רבים ומגוונים. הוא חקר ויצר מוסיקה אלקטרונית והשתמש לשם כך בכל הכלים שעמדו לרשותו. יחד עם זאת בשנה בה נכתב הקונצרטו השישי לפסנתר ואלקטרוניקה (1970) יצירת מוסיקה אלקטרונית באמצעות מחשב הייתה עדיין בתחילת הדרך. כדי למצות את הפוטנציאל הטמון במחשב היה צורך במחשבי על שהשימוש בהם היה יקר ונדיר. לקראת סוף המאה ועשרים נעשה השימוש במחשב הרבה יותר זמין ופשוט וטל היה סקרן מאד לדעת לאן דבר זה יוביל את המוסיקה האלקטרונית. דיברנו רבות על האפשרויות שנפתחו עקב כך. למשל, עיבוד אותות בזמן אמת ותהליכים רנדומליים.
כותרת היצירה נלקחה מתוך עבודה של דייויד הוקני הנקראת Pearblossom Highway הוקני השתמש במספר רב של תמונות פולרויד של אותו פריט כדי ליצור תמונות מורכבות. תמונות אלו מציגות את אותו הדבר אבל מנקודות מבט שונות. היצירה שלי בנויה בטכניקה דומה והיא בוחנת את האפשרויות השונות של אותו החומר המוסיקלי. שורת הצלילים שמהווה את הבסיס ליצירה זו היא שורה בת 11 צלילים. הצליל החסר הוא הצליל דו אשר אינו נשמע בצורתו הטבעית והוא ״מוסתר״ ברעש ממוכן בפסנתר ובמרימבה.
It is the 1920's. Ali, a Palestinian boy from Nablus, has reached his 18th birthday and becomes a man in his own right. Instead of going into the family business and contrary to his father's wishes, Ali decides to leave home and go to the big city, to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem Ali meets and befriends Eliahu, an elder Jew, who invites him to his home for Shabbat. For the first time in his life Ali becomes acquainted with Jewish people and their customs. He is deeply moved by their hospitality and is fascinated by their culture and decides to convert to Judaism. Ali quickly becomes an important figure in his new society. He is respected in the synagogue and his Hebrew is flawless. His new name is Avraham. He finds a good job, he has money, he is tall and handsome. After a short time Avraham meets a Jewish woman, Yehudit, and they fall in love. The couple gets married and move in together. They have children and everything goes well except for the relations between Avraham and Yehudit’s mother. The mother can’t stand him and constantly insults him and makes his life miserable. One day, after another terrible fight between them, Avraham leaves his house and wanders the streets in agony and despair. A British police officer finds him and thinks he looks suspicious. Avraham looks drunk, he mumbles in Arabic and Hebrew and when Avraham cannot produce an ID upon request, he arrests him and takes him into custody. In detention no one believes Ali's story. His family doesn’t even know where he is. After sometime his parents from Nablus learn about his situation and they come to visit him. They manage to convince the authorities to set him free on one condition that he goes back to Nablus with them. At first Ali refuses. He still believes that his Jewish family will come and release him. After a while his parents come to visit him again and this time they manage to persuade him to go back with them. Shortly after, in 1948, war breaks out and the borders between Israel and Palestine close. Ali cannot return to Jerusalem. Despite his wishes he now lives with his parents in Nablus. After a while he meets a local Muslim woman. They fall in love and get married. Ali has a new family now. 20 years later, after the 1967 war, Ali writes a letter to his Jewish family. He is terminally ill. He asks to see them for the last time. Shortly after Ali dies. Everyone, Jews and Arabs, attend his funeral.
מַכְבֵּד (panicle) - אשכול מורכב, תפרחת שבה הפרחים מסתעפים מענפים צדדיים, המסתעפים בעצמם מציר התפרחת. במלים אחרות, מכבד הוא מקבץ של אשכולות המסתעפים מציר משותף.
From the liner Notes to the CD
By Prof. Ruth HaCohen
“Casino Umbro" means "Umbrian Noise" or mess; the work was created during the composer’s residency at Civitella Ranieri in Umbria. Noise it is, if one considers the juxtaposition and fusion of two diametrically opposed musical style and sonic concepts – a baroque and contemporary one – a blasphemous concoction. (The work was invited by two Israeli ensembles: the contemporary music ensemble "Meitar" and the period instruments ensemble "Israeli Bach Soloists".) But the spirit of lush Umbria penetrates the texture. The work is indeed a good one to enter into Amos Elkana’s sonic world: transparent despite complications, communicative though sophisticated, soft and exuberant, emotional and thoughtful. It embarks with a French baroque gesture, embellished, warm; modal D. A perpetuum mobile jazz-like piano figuration emerges from this solemnity, gradually sweeping the other participants into its “mechanical” gesticulations, until all are dancing a “fractal” dance on a kaleidoscopally ever changing, adding and subtracting pitch and rhythm patterns. These two sections determine a structure of the kind found in Beethoven’s late works (and then in Mahler, Bartok and others): an alternating structure, in which each contrasting section affects the next, which structurally refers back to the one before (in the spirit of an ABABA… form). The dreamy like section that follows the “fractal dance”, is thus a sonic and tonal admixture of both universes: impressionistic, fraught with novel sonorities, but allowing sporadically for “conventional” chords to flicker, soft and slightly embellished melodies to emerge. Fourth section is likewise reactive, becoming a more reflective, moderate dance, divulging how modern-jazz piano can find itself dialoguing with a baroque harpsichord, without each losing its idiomatic identity, encouraging the other actors to similarly behave. One can hear in another section a Schoenbergian Klangfarben Melodie as a natural development of forgoing events, followed by a Stravinsky-like recollection. And so it goes, until all is silenced back into a baroquian gesture – a whole tone higher, a universe apart.
A tutor who tooted the flute, Tried to tutor two tutors to toot. Said the two to the tutor, 'Is it harder to toot, or to tutor two tutors to toot?'
Az emberi elmét,
legalábbis Kant szerint,
olyan kérdésekkel gyötri meg –
ki is? -
talán a sorsa kínozza,
a személyesnél személyesebb élete
rázza ki belőle a hajtűkanyarokban
a legbanálisabb sorskérdéseket,
amelyekre nem tud válaszolni,
nem tudja elutasítani,
hacsak az ember a lélegzetvételét
nem utasítja el.
Hová mész haza.
maga az értelem teszi fel,
egyedül az elme hallatja ily halkan
a sors szavát,
vagy az értelem természetének szava
visszhangzik így a
koponyák velővel telített terében.
Ember nem született, ki
hová mész haza –
ha egyszer az értelemnek az
egyetlen sorsával együtt sincs
közös otthona -
csökönyös kérdéseid lepattannak
Egy dolog, mely több
örömében és fájdalmában sem tud
hiába rázza sorsa,
mintha egyetlen lenne vagy
nem tud úgy beszélni,
mintha egyetlen ne lenne több egynél.
Mégis ki mondaná,
hogy ne lenne,
a fájó hiánynak ne a gondolkodás lenne
egyetlen boldogitóan közös távlata,
válasz nélkül lógnak
kérdései a levegőben:
hol van otthonod,
nyugodj el elme,
Van egy kis amatőr képecske,
az első nagyipari
hosszú éveinek egyikében
Suboticán azaz Szabadkán,
egy családi albumban ragadt fenn,
kopár vidéki utca,
télikabátos komoly kisfiú,
a házunk volt,
Die menschliche Vernunft,
jedenfalls nach Kant,
belästigt er durch Fragen –
ja wer eigentlich? –
vielleicht quält ihn sein Schicksal,
schüttelt in den Haarnadelkurven
sein allerpersönlichstes Leben
die allerbanalsten Schicksalsfragen aus ihm,
die er nicht beantworten kann,
nicht zurückweisen kann,
nicht seinen eigenen Atemzug zurückweisen will.
Wohin gehst du heim.
gibt der Verstand selbst auf,
nur die Vernunft läßt so leise
des Schicksals Wort vernehmen,
oder es hallt
das Wort der Natur des Verstandes
im hirngefüllten Raum der Schädel so nach.
Nie wurde ein Mensch geboren, der hätte
wohin gehst du heim –
wenn nicht einmal der Verstand
mit seinem unwiederholbaren Schicksal
ein gemeinsames Zuhause hat –
deine störrischen Fragen splittern ab
das persönliche Vermögen
Ein Ding, das
die Summe von mehreren ist,
kann auch im Glück und im Schmerz nicht
vergeblich schüttelt es sein Schicksal,
als ob es ausschließlich über ein einzelnes verfügte, oder
es kann nicht so sprechen,
als ob ein einzelnes nicht mehr als eines wäre.
Und doch, wer wollte behaupten,
es sei nicht,
das Denken sei nicht des schmerzhaften Mangels
einzig beglückend gemeinsame Perspektive,
ohne Antwort in der Luft hängen:
wo ist dein Zuhause,
besänftige dich Vernunft,
irgendjemand so etwas.
Beginnen wir von vorn.
Es ist ein kleines Amateurbildchen
mit gezacktem Rand
in einem der langen Jahre
der ersten industriellen
an einem Sonntag
in Subotica sprich Szabadka,
haftengeblieben in einem Familienalbum,
eine Straße auf dem öden Land,
ein ernster kleiner Junge im Wintermantel,
es war unser Haus,
vor unserem Haus
(Aus dem Ungarischen von Akos Doma)
at least according to Kant,
is tormented by such questions –
by whom? -
perhaps by its fate,
by the gods,
its immanently personal life
shakes out of it, in hairpin bends,
the most banal questions of life and death,
which it cannot answer,
unless one can reject one’s own breathing.
Whither do you go home.
are posed by reason itself,
reason alone can speak so softly
the language of fate,
or the words of reason’s nature
make such gentle echoes
in the marrow-filled space of skulls.
Never was a man born
who could answer:
whither do you go home –
wedded to its single destiny
cannot find its home -
your stubborn questions are repulsed,
A thing that is more
than its sum,
will be shaken by its destiny
to no avail,
it still cannot speak,
not out of joy, not out of pain,
it were a singularity,
or it cannot speak
a singularity were not more than one.
Still, who would say,
that it wouldn’t be,
that of this painful lack
the sole joyous common perspective
wouldn’t be thinking
its questions hang answerless
where is your home,
is there one,
reason be calm,
have a thing like this.
Let us start over.
There is a small amateur photo,
with jagged edges,
taken in one of the long years
of the first industrial size
burning of humans
in Subotica, that is, in Szabadka,
stuck in a family album,
a desolate small town street,
an earnest young boy in a great coat,
it was our house,
in front of our house
My friend, the sculptor Alexander Polzin asked me to compose a new piece for the unveiling ceremony of his sculpture of Giordano Bruno in Berlin which took place in March 2008. In preparation for this work I read a lot about Bruno and tried to find my own connection to the subject. As it happens Bruno was an admirer of the Maharal and he always wanted to meet him. It is not written anywhere that the two actually met but it is known that Bruno was in fact in Prague in 1588 at the same time when the Maharal was there. This piece is inspired by the meeting that did (or did not) take place between the two men. In his fiction book 'Endless Things' John Crowley describes such a meeting. Oddly enough, I have found out that I am a direct descendant of the Maharal. He is right there in my family tree which dates back to 1392!
This composition was completely revised in 2015.
Premiered on Mar. 2, 2008 in Berlin by Freyja Gunnlaugsdóttir
Version (2012): This is arranged for a symphony orchestra upon the request of the Israeli Music Festival 2012. I also added a section at the end that does not exist in the original composition.
The Poem: In Auden's lengthy poem, The Age of Anxiety, he follows the actions and thoughts of four characters that happen to meet in a bar during the Second World War. Their interactions with one another lead them on an imaginary quest in their minds in which they attempt, without success, to discover themselves. The themes and ideas that The Age of Anxiety conveys reflect his belief that man's quest for self-actualization is in vain. The Age of Anxiety is, in general, a quest poem. Unlike the ideal quest, however, this quest accomplishes nothing. The characters search for the meaning of self and, in essence, the meaning of life, but because their search is triggered by intoxication, the quest is doomed from the start. Throughout the quest, the characters believe themselves to be in a kind of purgatory, gradually descending toward hell. They fail to realize this due to "the modern human condition which denies possibility but refuses to call it impossible" (Nelson 117).
The Paintings: Alexander Polzin's series of 99 paintings based on Auden's poem grew out of the artist's fascination with "...the unusual mixture of poetic quality, clear meaningful sentences and rich images." The series was made in 1999, which is one of the reasons the artist decided to paint 99 paintings. The other reason being his strong desire to accomplish the nearly impossible task of composing 99 paintings simultaneously. Polzin divided the text into 99 segments after reading the poem over and over again developing his own "melody" of the text. He also wanted to highlight some of the sentences in the poem by disconnecting them from their surroundings. The anxiety in the poem, for Polzin, is hidden under several layers of meaning and so in his paintings he decided to use a technique of layering. At the bottom layer of each painting he pasted a segment of the text and painted the number of that segment corresponding to his own subdivision of the text. He then created layers of paint and images on top of that sculpting out the parts he wanted to emphasize. Through this process most of the text and numbers became invisible.
The Music: The sound source for this installation is largely based on a recording of five actors (four characters and one narrator) reciting the poem in a bar. During this process the actors were encouraged to drink as much as they wanted so as to recreate the mood of the original poem. The bartender was generous enough to turn off the background music during the recording and so the only background sounds are bar noises made by people drinking, conversing, laughing, playing pool, etc. Different layers of sound are created by transforming the bar recording electronically. These layers become alternately 'visible' and 'invisible' by fading them in and out. One of the electronic sound layers is created by analyzing 12 peaks from the recorded voice and connecting these peaks to 12 oscillators. The result is a sort of a modified reproduction of the actual voice recording. Another layer that is present is the sound of a quartet of wind instruments - tuba, trombone, trumpet and clarinet. Each instrument corresponds to a different character in the poem. These instruments are actually very high-quality samples of real instruments. Each note was recorded several times in different dynamic levels and different modes of attack. Extended playing techniques were also recorded and used. The actual notes that these instruments play are generated by a quasi-random process that uses a phrase, instead of a single note, as it's basic point of departure. The first thing that is determined on this level is the phrase duration. Since we are dealing with wind instruments, it has been taken into consideration that in normal situations the player of a wind instrument should have time to breathe after about 20 seconds of continuous playing. For each phrase the program decides: 1) What permutation and transposition of the row to play from a twelve tone matrix. 2) The durations of the notes in the phrase. 3) The dynamic range of the notes (for example, mp is not a constant level but a range). 4) The style of playing - staccato, legato, flutter-tongue, trills, etc. 5) The instrumental register - high, medium or low. What creates a relationship between the voices of the different instruments is that the phrases they all play are derived from the same source - the 12-tone matrix. Another layer is made out of percussion sounds that are triggered by the recording of the actors. The program picks out the 'attacks' of the recorded voice and these attacks trigger the percussion samples. Other transformations of the bar recording include pitch-shifting, delaying and spatializing. All of the sounds that are used in this piece are spatialized around the room by using four speakers that are placed in the four corners of the room.First installed from Apr. 6 - 29, 2006 at the Goethe Institute in New York City.
Eight Flowers are set of eight very short pieces for piano. Each piece was inspired by and named after a certain flower and together they form a bouquet.
The order and number of times in which each of these pieces are played are left to the performer's discretion. In this way it is as if he/she is arranging the bouquet of flowers to suit his/her own taste.
Premiered by Gabor Csalog on June 11, 2006 in Neuhardenberg, Germany, in a festival honoring György Kurtág on his 80th birthday.
\Plex"ure\, n. [See Plexus.] The act or process of weaving together, or interweaving; that which is woven together. --H. Brooke (Dictionary.com)
This duo is composed for the double-reed family of instruments. It features the Oboe, the English Horn and the Contrabassoon. The piece is divided into 4 sections that correspond to the AABA form. The degree of virtuosity required from the players is very high; the pitch ranges for the instruments are extreme but playing together and in time is probably as much of a challenge as reaching the notes at the extreme range of the instrument. This work is dedicated to my grandmother Miriam Keren and was premiered on the occasion of her 99th birthday.
Premiered by B. Schmutzler and D. Karamintzas on May 11, 2005 in Jerusalem, Israel
From the liner Notes to the CD
By Prof. Ruth HaCohen
String quartets have been always an arena for compositional experiments as they were a venue of intimate if not arcane discourse. String Quartet no. 2 strongly belongs to this tradition, as to its rich vocabulary of articulation, thematics, and textural modes. Elkana, searching for “rigorous predefined form that will grant him liberty of ‘pouring’ music into them”, elaborated a “method of composition with ‘fractal’ configurations”, which he intensively and extensively uses in this work. The mathematical idea of fractals is that similar patterns recur at progressively smaller (or larger) scale. Fractals are everywhere around us, we perceive them in snowflakes and leaf veins, and they make up blood vessels and coast lines, enabling us to experience the whole in the detail. Inspired by this basic idea, in some of his works Elkana embarks by shaping predetermined tone matrix, which could contain any number of tones, in any order some even repeated within the original set from which he then draw certain numerical orders that will recur in various structural levels in the work he conceives. Thus differentiating his system from the 12-tone Schoenbergain method, Elkana still adheres, in the procedure he developed, to the latter’s basic permutational modes, to which he applies rules of selection to avoid arbitrary choice. Rhythm is likewise manipulated. The cohesive effect, though not easy to detect, is intuitively experienced due to the thick recursive connections between micro- and macro-levels including that of the entire work. This, of course, does not exempt the composer from an imaginative, creative process and from giving each movement its own unique character and modes of unfolding. Thus in the first movement the highly profiled, soft and almost solemn opening theme, fugued through the four parts, will not be able to hold an immediate outburst of an abrupt homophonic gesture, and the alternation and conflation of these two basic utterances will furnish the basic dramatic infrastructure of the entire movement. Despite calculation (or maybe due to its constrains) the movement can be experienced as an essay on the rise and fall of tonal energy, in its basic, visceral undulations. The second movement is born from sustained sounds, which are ever there to collect all that transpires, into their serene duration, even the most capricious, frantic figuration which abound here as well. Tonal sustainability is embodied here in variety of being and becoming modes, and its presence is so strong throughout that even when it does not outwardly there we feel its presence. The brief scherzo-like third movement, a sort of peak in terms of the structure of the entire work, accentuates its edgy, almost ghost -like character through the sul ponticello (on the bridge) and other strings and bow effects, but no less by shaping temporal irregularities as a natural, inevitable flow. Ideas and sonorities from previous movements are recollected in the fourth, elegiac one, which searches, in different ways, for expression of unbeknownst yearn. Beethoven’s Convalescent's Holy Song of Thanksgiving to the Divinity, in the Lydian Mode” (String Quartet op. 132, 3rd movement) comes to mind. The fifth, a grand finale movement combines rondo-like construction with a playful recapitulation of moments and modes of being experienced throughout the work.
From the liner Notes to the CD
By Prof. Ruth HaCohen
If the European affiliation of the composer is well perceived in the first work, traversing in a musical time-machine distant eras, here it is his middle-eastern roots and concerns that he connects to the Germanic background of his ancestors. Languages and voices enter the scene; the poetry of the poet Michael Roes is the vehicle: “Arabic lessons” the poet calls it, and wishes to penetrate through learning the language the agonized worlds of conflict, occupation and memory. The lessons are further “studied” by the Israeli composer through their reflections in both Hebrew and German. The trilingual text thus combined is a difficult one, politically, emotionally: Jews’ ambivalence towards German, Arabs’ and Israelis’ suspicion towards each other’s language. Yet it is a triad that harbors hope: one of reciprocal listening, of understanding through difference, of people learning grammar, vocabulary and syntax of a basically unknown world that reveals itself through its loaded, inescapable political meanings. Feminine voices --three sopranos, are ideal carrier of this burden, this challenge. Each represents a single linguistic domain, which will be mingled or superimposed on the other. The rich, mellow and vibrant instrumental ensemble of flute, trumpet, saxophone, cello, bass guitar and percussion heightens atmosphere, accentuates meaning. In its chamber-like, accompanying character and relations to voices it calls to mind the famous ensemble of a Pierrot Lunaire. The 13 poems and two instrumental sections of the entire cycle thus consist of a variety of combinations of texture and structure, which never repeat themselves. First lesson starts with voice alone, in the language of the “third party“: German. It searches its way unsupported through practicing a “there is” structure (1. Es Gibt). The melody of the clear three-strophic construction intensifies itself from strophe to strophe while “breaking down”, in the third, a cracked “inventory” of what “is there”. Four (instrumental) Loops (2.) follow. A 9-tone theme (or row) bases the variegating motion they yield through contraction, expansion and metrical playfulness; now homophonic, now fugal, or even heterophonic – in a way that bring certain Mediterranean sonic textures to mind. The “lessons” further flow. Shaped like a medieval “conductus”, the Delegation lesson (3.) focuses on WH questions fraught with political existential sense. The tri-lingual point-counter-point proceeds from one fermata to the next – further punctuated by bass and drum – holding its rhetorical questions in the air. Where to stop? What adds to what? This becomes the major concern of the following lesson (4. Composed Words) performed by the Hebrew singer. Words can be composed into horrific, un/intended meanings and the thematic material now breathes “Israeliness”– tensed, full of angst. The composer “exchanges letters” -- and notes – with his fellow composers and predecessors, accentuates desperation, the peril of gross misunderstanding . In Roots (5.) the three languages/ vocalities further exhaust the potential of three-equal and rather wide-range voices, through imitative techniques that verge again on heterophony, with the middle voice – the German, acting sometimes as mediating between the two. Indeed, root structure characterizes Semitic languages and is foreign to German. Yet all languages, we learn, partake in “ruins of yesterday” and in homilies that are “destructive”. The musical allegory leads the trio, in the final section, to a 14th century hocketus: disrupted, choked alternating utterances, supported by the mellifluous sax. Short and highly intense solo Arabic “Present” - Alhader (5.) compresses voice and ensemble in a breathless, less than a minute utterance, as if there is no future, or no time. Basic vocabulary (6.) takes us into a busy market of words and idioms. Commodities are exchanged, also motifs – nervous, serpent-like; flute interlaces its waves, now exclaiming upon a new lingual merchandise, now uttering a help cry, now negotiating: can they understand each other, these separate agencies? Lists (7.), delivered in solemn German mode and Common Expressions (8.) follow; they manifest how lists may turn eerie and alternating proverbial utterances—when frenziedly exchanged or combined by the performing protagonists – shaking. In the last lessons/songs drums and trumpet becomes more prominent, sound more connected to real life. Thus in Future (10.) trumpet renders a declarative framework to which speaking voices – on pitch (German), without pitch (Hebrew) and melodically declarative (Arabic) – perform “a time before time”, transporting us to basics – of speech, voice, rhythm. Indeed, as lessons evolve, and we become more involved, the languages, qua performative languages, become more perceptible, each with its unique intonation, pronunciation, difference. Cairo (13.) and Jerusalem (15.) are entirely of this kind; separated by a rhythmical sermon (Canon 14.), basically unpitched, evoking a wasteland that extends between the two cities. Jerusalem, Elkana’s native city, where three Abrahamic religions encounter daily, is even more cacophonous, boisterous, violent than Cairo. So are the voices; the languages unadorned, the sonorous envelope of instrumental ensemble harsh and unavoidable. Who will win. Who will get closer to God. Who is the desired sacrifice on the holy mount. In the meantime, there is a wound that does not bleed but kills, word that does not fall, but chokes, blackening street sign and a pile of soap and fish flour.
From the liner Notes to the CD
By Prof. Ruth HaCohen
Tru’a – in Hebrew both fanfare and ululation, especially when referring to the Shofar blasts in the synagogue during the Days of Awe – this highly imaginative work of the young composer wavers between the two modes, here embodied by the brilliance of a concerto style and real moments of fanfaric calls (e.g. arpeggios in 3’51’’ and in the virtuoso solo cadence) and the entreating mode of the existential calling of the shofar (as in 1’50’ and 6’03’). Even the synagogal congregation is here, through its traditional “heterophonic chant mumbling” embodied by the orchestral “virtual agents” (which, paradoxically enough, the composer achieves by using the sonic technique associated with the Polish composer W. Lutoslawsky) so typical to the (Ashkenazi) synagogue (and the reason for accusing it as “noisy”). The solo clarinetist, celebrating the abundance of gestures, expressions, implorations and explorations, redolent of so much of the literature written for and played by this instrument throughout the 20th century and before, must perform it all as a grand ex-temporation (though every note, dynamic change, trill or articulation effect is written down) as a ravishing play with temporalities, inspiring and sweeping the rich orchestral body in thousands of ways.
Amos Elkana is a multi-award-winning composer, guitarist and electronic musician. In their decision to award him the Prime Minister's Prize for Music Composition the jury noted that Elkana is the author of "very original music, independent of the prevailing fashion, guided by unique and delicate taste," and radiates "a strong sense of honesty."
Amos was born in Boston, USA in 1967 but grew up in Jerusalem, Israel. He returned to Boston in 1987 to study jazz guitar at the Berklee College of Music and composition at the The New England Conservatory of Music. His primary composition teacher at NEC was William Thomas McKinley. Later on he moved to Paris were he took composition lessons with Michele Reverdy and additional lessons with Erik Norby in Denmark and with Paul-Heinz Dittrich and Edison Denisov in Berlin. Elkana got his MFA degree from Bard College (New York) in music/sound. While at Bard, he focused on electronic music and took lessons with Pauline Oliveros, David Behrman, Richard Teitelbaum, George Lewis, Maryanne Amacher and Larry Polansky among others.
In 1993 Elkana had his Carnegie Hall debut with "Saxophone Quartet No.1" composed for the Berlin Saxophone Quartet. Since then his music has been performed all over the world by major orchetras, ensembles and soloists such as the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Meitar, Musica Nova Consort, the Orquesta de Cámara del Auditorio de Zaragoza ("Grupo Enigma"), the Stockholm Saxophone Quartet and many more.
In 1994 Elkana composed "Tru’a", a concerto for clarinet and orchestra, that was recorded by Richard Stoltzman and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. Tru’a was premiered in Israel by Gilad Harel and The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra under Frédéric Chaslin and in Taiwan by the TNUA orchestra.
"Arabic Lessons", a tri-lingual song-cycle in Arabic, Hebrew and German to the words of Michael Roes, was composed in 97-98 and premiered in the Berlin Festival in 1998. For this work Elkana received the Golden Feather Award from ACUM. In its review of Arabic Lessons, the Jerusalem Post called it "a perplexing, beguiling 40-minute opus in which the composer challenges the so-called 'acceptable' form of the lieder, shattering it and building it anew, as if constructing a new world from its ashes. ...Arabic Lessons is one of the most significant works composed in Israel for quite a while."
In 2006 Elkana composed "Eight Flowers" for solo piano in honor of György Kurtág's 80th birthday. The work was premiered that same year in Schloss Neuhardenberg near Berlin during a festival celebrating Kurtág and in his presence. Since then this work has been performed all over the world including the ISCM World Music Days in Sweden in 2009.
Elkana’s short opera "The Journey Home" comments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by telling the true and incredibly touching story of a Palestinian man who lived in this troubled land during most of 20th century. The opera was commissioned by opus21musicPlus and premiered in the Gasteig Auditorium in Munich in 2013.
In 2013-2014 Elkana was invited to be a fellow for a year at the International Research Center »Interweaving Performance Cultures« in Berlin where he worked on his next opera "Nathan the Wise". This fascinating project brings Lessing's play to life as a tri-lingual opera. The original text was edited into a libretto in Hebrew, German and Arabic by Elkana's long time collaborator Michael Roes while preserving Lessing's unique poetic language. Besides Nathan the Wise, Elkana recently finished his new Piano Concerto commissioned by the Israel Symphony Orchestra to be premiered in July 2016.
"Casino Umbro" is the title of Elkana's recent CD released to great critical acclaim on the American label Ravello in 2012. The CD includes four compositions: Casino Umbro, String Quartet No.2, Arabic Lessons and Tru'a. It was reviewed by Frank J. Oteri on New music box.
Apart from concert music, Elkana composes regularly for dance and theater. He frequently works with director/choregrapher Sommer Ulrickson and Artist/Stage designer Alexander Polzin. This team produced several works which were staged in the US, Germany and Israel. Among them "After Hamlet" which is a dance/theater piece that takes an original twist on Shakespear's Hamlet, "Never Mind" which deals with the Capgras syndrome, "Remains" and "Zwischenspiel".
Elkana is one of the few experts of the open-source program "Pure Data" and he teaches it and electronic music in general as well as composition. In the past he taught at UC Santa Cruz and gave lectures on his music at the Munich Academy of Music and Theater, Academia de Muzică "Gheorghe Dima" in Cluj-Napoca, the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music among others.
Amos is also an active performer. He regularly participates in concerts and performances of improvised music where he plays the electric guitar and the computer. In 2010 he opened the International Literature Festival in Berlin giving a concert of his music for Recorded voices of poets, Electric guitar and electronics.