Modern Love and Music

I took a little time to go to, what is for me, a European-like modern art event (some of it modern opera in Hebrew). The arts are more heavily subsidized and appreciated in Europe, and one thus finds very experimental theatre, art, and music, attended as intellectual soirees by people who like to think often on a weekly basis in little academic groups of 50 or fewer.

This one was about music.
musicThe concert began with a piece from a Jewish/bisexual German refugee from Hamburg, Ingolf Dahl, with his Concerto a Tre, composed shortly after the war.

It was followed by 3 pieces by Greg Bartholomew.  The first piece reminded me a little of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concert in E, the Beethovenish orchestral swell.  Still, even with a classical point of reference, I find the music exotic.  How does the composer know where to go next?  I search the room, looking for the music’s author, as if they might answer my question.

Then, the modern opera of love, songs composed and attended by Tamar Muskal with an English translation on the side provided by David Grossman.  It was in Hebrew, and it had its decidedly dramatic moments:

“…I, with everything burning, am crowded, crowded in the couple.  A sharp pin rudely tacks a butterfly.  This time it relaxed, this time it succeeded.  I will hang up the wet laundry.  You will load the dishwasher.  The excess desire, vain, is channeled into the sea.  Two, you say, is a very big crowd.”

“…When I am against myself, don’t abandon me, don’t hand me over,  Don’t allow me to rejoice in my own misfortune, guard my soul when I’m in despair.  Guard my head when I assassinate myself.  The most essential thing, most healing to my insult…Love me, in spite of me.”

“…I need…the grammar of the exact expression, the joy when two silences tie together conversation, the courage to dive to find the right word.  To find my name at the bottom of your eye.  Come.  I need you.”

“No one will be to her as exciting as this man was.  Never again will anyone be able to renew him.  A thin layer of the ashes lay over the secret.  The man and the woman live inside a world of grids and boxes.  There is no room for such a flame.”

I listen to the drama unfold, tragically seeming excessive in view of my own experience. On the eve of the Supreme Court arguments regarding gay marriage, I wonder who can possibly legislate this?  And, I wonder, if we live in a world where opera is yet possible?

Finally, a piece from Alan Hovhanes, the composer who used whale sounds in some of his other compositions.  The one we heard was the Prayer of St. Gregory (1946).

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