Instrumentation: Bass (or bass-baritone) singer, clarinet, cello, piano
Commission: Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players with support from the Jewish Music Commission of LA
Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players
Staller Hall, Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY
vayter un vayter is a setting of three powerful poems by the noted Yiddish poet Avrom Sutzkever. These include es klopn di shleyfn (My Head is Throbbing), shpiltsayg (Playthings) and ver vet blaybn (What Remains?). The first is a dark and intense poem about good and evil; the second is a touching poem from father to daughter, with both delicate images and tragic darkness; the third is a rich reflection on faith and eternity tinged with irony. The title I have given the entire set, vayter un vayter, translated as Further and Further, is drawn from the first poem and speaks to how Sutzkever draws one further and further into his world, that of the Yiddish-speaking community of Eastern Europe prior to its destruction in World War II. The piece is dedicated to my paternal grandparents, Hannah and Samuel Shatinsky, and to my father, Dr. Leo Shatin, all of whom spoke Yiddish as their first language.
I am most grateful to a number of people, without whom this project would not have been possible: Rabbi Dan Alexander of Charlottesville’s Temple Beth Israel, my colleague Jeffrey Grossman at the University of Virginia, Professor Miriam Hoffman of Columbia University, Catherine Madsen of the National Yiddish Book Center for her swift assistance in putting me in touch with Debra Kaplan, who did the transliterations and readings of the Sutzkever poetry I chose to set. –JS