Movement 1: Soaring
Instrumentation: Flute and piano
Renee and Cynthia Siebert
National Flute Association Convention, Kansas City, MO
Score in Preparation
“Ruah” is a Hebrew word that translates as air, wind, or breath. In Cabalistic mysticism, it also refers to the part of the soul that mediates between the body and the spirit. Both the colloquial and spiritual meanings are at work here. The images of breath and air inform the timbral stretching of the flute’s sound, with the flutist using the voice and its breath flow in conjunction with played tones. The image of the wind is captured particularly in the swirling lines of the first movement, marked “Soaring,” and in the third, titled “Impassioned.” The second movement, “Tender,” emerges from a dynamic stillness, with far-flung registral limits, and large internal spaces. Its three-part organization mirrors the larger-scale three-movement plan of the entire work. The final movement is a more furious spin through space and reflects a more tightly wound, assertive character than the first two movements. However, it also refers to the preceding movements. The spiritual reference is embodied in the role of the flute as it variously springs forth from and mediates between the instruments of the ensemble.
Ruah was composed for and is dedicated to flutist Reneé Siebert. She premiered and recorded the concerto with the Prism Chamber Orchestra in March 1987, and premiered the flute/piano version at the Kansas City meeting of the National Flute Association in 1994. For that occasion, Cynthia Siebert was the pianist. This composition was made possible in part by an NEA Composer Fellowship and by a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. The second movement was choreographed by Kate Johnson of the Paul Taylor Dance Company and presented at New York’s City Center in May 1989. The chamber orchestra version of Ruah is recorded on Piping the Earth, a CD of Judith Shatin’s orchestral music, #8727 Capstone Records, re-released by Ravello as a digital download on Parma Records, also available on multiple streaming services. –JS