Siskind

string orchestra  (1993)  8′

published by Sweet Child Music

  • commissioned by the Gotham Chamber Orchestra
  • Omaha Symphony Guild Composition Competition, first place, 1994
  • ASCAP Rudolph Nissim Prize, honorable mention, 1994

“Siskind manages to pack a good deal into this discordant work’s eight minutes, achieving a sense of unity, despite its clashing emotions and shifting musical character.”

Kyle MacMillan, Omaha World-Herald, 5/14/95

The title Lim’not Yahmeinu (…to number our days) is taken from Psalm 90, which is recited in part during the Yizkor (memorial) service on a number of Jewish holidays throughout the year.  The piece is not overtly programmatic, but rather is a reflection on the myriad of possible reactions that one can have to the inevitable approach of death, be it one’s own or that of a loved one.  Thus, while certain gestures might be heard as imitative of phenomena associated with death (such as the opening pulsating figure being heard as the dying away of a heartbeat), they are meant to be heard as merely evocative of these phenomena, rather than as descriptive or imitative.

Lim’not Yahmeinu displays a number of stylistic characteristics found in much of my recent music: a balance between the logic of linear motivic development and the sheer emotional impact of coloristic and textural gestures; a heightened sense of drama attained by extreme and often interruptive shifts in tempo, dynamics, timbre, and register; and a tendency toward a virtuosic style that presents technical challenges to both performer and listener.  However, there are extended sections of Lim’not Yahmeinu that conversely display an expansive lyricism and a textural simplicity more characteristic of my earlier music, most notably the lyrical melody that follows the solo cello cadenza, first heard in the cellos and then in the violins.  While this may have merely been a response to the subject matter of the piece, it is perhaps more of a reflection of my continual desire to create music that displays an immediate surface attractiveness bolstered by a deeper content that reveals new meaning upon repeated listenings.

Lim’not Yahmeinu was written in the spring of 1993, and was commissioned by Dorothy Savitch and the Gotham Chamber Orchestra, underwritten by the Minnesota Composers Forum with funds provided by the Jerome Foundation.  It was awarded the Omaha Symphony Guild Composition Prize in 1994.

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