Songs of War and Peace

Songs of War & Peace


Instrumentation: SATB chorus + piano.
A version is also available for SATB + chamber orch: / / perc. pno
Duration: 16:30
Premiere: 10/29/98
Virginia Consort
Conductor Judith Gary
Nobel Peace Conference
Old Cabell Auditorium, UVA
Charlottesville, VA

SATB + Piano Score |  SATB + Chamber Orchestra Score |   Purchase Music

Program Note:
Songs of War and Peace (1998), is a setting of four poems by major Israeli poets, with translations by outstanding American ones, on the ongoing topic of war and peace. I chose poems collected in the compelling book After the First Rain, a title which, in colloquial Hebrew, also means “After the Shooter.” Published by Dryad Press, these poems represent the sadness and shock of the post-Rabin environment, although some sing of hope as well. I chose four poems: “And How My Brother is Cain” (Azriel Kaufman, trans. Barbara Golberg), “The Rain is Ready to Fall” (Eytan Eytan, trans. Merrill Leffler); “Peace is a Sea” (Ella Bat-Tzion, trans Barbara Goldberg) and “Peace Poem After a Ugarithic Inscription” (Eli Netzer, trans Moshe Dor). The first poem is one of devastation and its aftermath, and the shock of Rabin being killed by a Jew; the second poem is one of ambivalence and acceptance, and refers to the tremendous change that the first rain brings to the arid landscape; the third sings of hope, and the fourth brings a command to end the cycle of war. I composed Songs of War and Peace in commemoration of Israel’s Fiftieth Anniversary. It was premiered at the University of Virginia and then presented at the Carter Peace Center in Atlanta, Georgia as part of the 20th Anniversary celebration of the signing of the Camp David Accords. It has been performed by a number of other choruses, including The New Amsterdam Singers and the Alexandria Chorale. The version for SATB + Chamber Orchestra was commissioned by the Minnesota Chorale and Maestra J. Michele Edwards and premiered on 5/4/08. –JS

Texts for Songs of War and Peace

All poems from After the First Rain, Dryad Press, used by permission

And How My Brother Is Cain
By Azriel Kaufman, translated by Barbara Goldberg

Those who walked to weep
Those who walked to write
and I walked and walked and walked
and under my feet words hummed
and I walked over the dark
and over despair
and over silence

and a demon walked through my heart
and the gun
and there was a shot
and years collapse
and how my brother with blood on his hands
and how my brother is Cain
and I walked and walked
and there came a fire consuming the silence.

By Ella Bat-Tzion, translated by Barbara Goldberg

Peace is a sea
whose waves
will carry us far.

The Rain is Ready to Fall
By Eytan Eytan, translated by Merrill Leffler

The rain is ready to fall
On the mountains of the deep
On the high valleys.
The rain is ready to fall downside up
On the defeated victors
On the victorious defeated.
The rain is ready to fall on a world turning upside down.
A rain of many waters.
A rain the earth can only accept.

Peace Poem After a Ugarithic Inscription
By Eli Netzer, translated by Moshe Dor

Call war off the land
Put love on earth
Pour peace over the land
Make love plentiful over fields
Withold your rod sheath your sword.

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