adon olam

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

For more information about recordings, scores, and commissions, please contact Erica J. Ball.