Adon Olam is my first venture into writing for the voice. Since writing for a new medium was already a challenge, I decided to minimize my obstacles and use an established, albeit shortened, choral text in the Jewish tradition. I approached the choir the same way in which I approach writing for a string quartet - both ensembles have the ability to blend into a unified sound as well as to separate into four distinct voices. I was raised in a Jewish household and I believe that true communication with G-d is not scripted or prescribed, but more of a rambling and unfolding of the soul. This belief helped to shape the narrative of Adon Olam.
The work opens with a slowly evolving chord which sets the tone for the rest of the piece. Following this is a section containing a more focused melodic line, which was influenced by traditional Middle Eastern sounds. This leads into a section of repeated figures sung with different rhythms by each of the voices. The rhythmic figures gradually align, as the music builds to a climax. From the climax, the piece dissipates to a texture which combines features of the opening cluster chord, and the melodic line. The work ends with three iterations of the phrase Adonai li v’lo ira, translated as G-d is with me, I will not fear.
Adon Olam was awarded the Helen L. Weiss Award for vocal compositions by the University of Pennsylvania.
Premiere: Florilegium Chamber Chorale, NYC, May 2012
Commissioned by the Florilegium Chamber Chorale
Helen L. Weiss Award, University of Pennsylvania 2012