Music -Inspiration in Difficult Times
Throughout history, difficult times have led to creativity and music composing. Sometimes music expresses despair, such as in Poulenc’s Un Soir de Neige (Night of Snow) describing the horrors of war; in other cases—it conveys hardship, as in the mass written by the English composer William Byrd, who experienced severe persecution for being a Catholic in an Anglican country. At times, the work brings hope, as in the Chorus of Hebrew Slaves from Verdi’s opera Nabucco, which echoes the difficulty of living under the oppression of the Austrian Empire and the longing for independence. Under other circumstances, a difficult period imposes practical constraints, as in the case of Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale (which was written in the midst of World War II): since it was not possible to perform orchestral works at the time, Stravinsky wrote one of his masterpieces for a small and mobile ensemble. Another prominent piece inspired by war is Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, celebrating victory in a festive patriotic piece. By contrast, it was precisely from the German Prisoner-of-War camp that Oliver Messiaen wrote Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time), one of the 20th century masterpieces, which expresses softness, optimism and hope.
The Messiah is here
When the term Oratorio is mentioned, immediately comes to mind the oratorio Messiah by Georg Friedrich Handel (1741). But oratorios were written long before and continued to be written long after. The upcoming lecture in the Israeli Vocal Ensemble lecture series will be dedicated to the opera’s religious sister, the Oratorio — a story presented by a choir, orchestra and soloists, without costumes and scenery. From Carissimi ‘s Jephte, through Handel’s and Haydn‘s oratorios to King David by Swiss composer Honegger, Yuval Benozer takes the participants on a journey into the depths of the genre.
Romanticism in Vocal Music
The 19th century is the golden age of choral music. The human voice expresses the major values of the Romantic period – the emphasis on human personality and its moods, the emotional expression, and understanding nature as a mirror of the soul. Many choirs arose and choral singing gradually took center stage in both the composers’ works and on the stages. At this lecture, associated with the second concert of the Vocal Experience Series, conductor Yuval Benozer discusses romantic music and what makes it so. He plays music by Schubert, Rossini, and Brahms, and brings a taste of one of the most exciting choral works of the 20th century: “Peace on Earth”, by Arnold Schoenberg.
J.S. Bach: St. John Passion – the pinnacle of ecclesiastical drama
The two passions of J.S. Bach are considered by many to be the pinnacle of Western religious music of all time. In the fifth lecture in the “Magic Behind the Voices” series, conductor Yuval Benozer explains the elements that breathe life into the archaic text and turn it into a moving experience. Lecture will touch upon the Passion text, the Gospels, the unique role of the Evangelist – the narrator, the three roles of the choir, the place of the choral in the story and more.
Requiem without a Requiem
What’s the relation between the German Requiem–Johannes Brahms’ beautiful work–and the Requiem genre? There is not a single word in Brahm’s work from the Latin requiem text. Are Henry Purcell’s Funeral Sentences less exciting due to the fact that the texts he chose for them are not from the requiem? Such is the case with Cantata 106 by J.S. Bach “God’s time is the very best time.”
Listeners are invited on a journey through a collection of beautiful works written to part from those who have passed away. Works of music that bring comfort and fill the heart.
J.S. Bach’s Motets
What’s a Motet? Who were the composers who inspired Bach? Why are the six Motets composed by Bach considered the pinnacle of his choral work? Yuval Benozer will talk about the close connection between text and music, and about how out of structural complexity, we get music that speaks to all ears in its own simple language
The Great Masses
What’s a Mass in music? What is its liturgical context? What are the six movements of the Mass and the different nature of each one? Why did composers write (and still do write) music for the text of the Mass? This lecture is a trip back in time to the different movements and perspectives of composers throughout history — Palestrina, William Bird, J. S. Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Schubert, and Puccini — on the central Christian prayer text.
The Great Requiems – Mozart, Verdi, Brahms and Fauré
Following the previous lecture, which dealt with the Catholic Mass over the years, this time we will touch upon the Requiem. What is the relation between the Requiem and the Mass and what sets them apart? What is the origin of the Requiem’s text? Was it written for the dead or for the living? Is it meant to scare or comfort? What makes the great and famous requiem exciting? What makes Fauré’s Requiem unique? Is Brahms’ German Requiem really a Requiem?
The live online lecture series of the Israeli Vocal Ensemble
with conductor Yuval Benozer, Music Director of the Ensemble