Moshe Denburg

Audio Samples & Notes: Moshe Denburg

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 1. Ani Ma-amin (I Believe) III Excerpt (2002) (23′)
Bansuri, Tabla, Darabuka, Udu, Riqq, Pipa, Ruan, Daruan, Oud, Sitar, Zheng, Yangqin, Danbau, Erhu

 2. Ani Ma-amin (I Believe) V Excerpt (2002) (23′) *c

Composer’s Notes:

I. Graceful; Resolute II. Serene III. Joyful IV. Affirming; Fervent V. Supplication
At the core of Judaism are certain articles of faith that have resonance for me whether within or without a religious context. One of these articles is the declaration of belief in a messiah, a redemption of the world, a time when peace shall reign in all of creation. This belief – in a peaceful outcome to the human project – has long been a source of hope for people the world over, and has given purpose to an otherwise chaotic existence.

The work calls for a choir, singing in the original Hebrew, accompanied by an inter-cultural orchestra of instruments from many parts of the world. The text, two terse lines composed a millenium ago, by the great Rabbinical scholar and philosopher Moses Maimonides, is given several different treatments in a multiple movement work. Each movement highlights a different attitude of prayer, such as: joy, grace, serenity, resolution, and supplication. The English translation goes:

I believe, with an unwavering faith, in the coming of the messiah.
And though he may tarry, even so I will look for his coming every day.
(transliterated Hebrew) Ani ma-amin be-emuna sh’leima b’viyat hamashiakh.
V’af al pi she-yitma-mei-a, im kol ze akhake lo b’chol yom she-yavo.The textual universalism in the work serves to highlight the mission of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra as a musical ensemble that encourages goodwill and understanding between peoples of diverse backgrounds.

3. Rapprochements (Reconciliations) V Excerpt (2000) (40′)
Erhu, Yangqin, Zheng, Sitar, Tabla, Darabuka, Hurdy Gurdy, Ney, Bansuri, Shakuhachi, Didjeridu, Tin Whistle, Oud, Pipa

4. Rapprochements (Reconciliations) VI Excerpt (2000) (40′)

Composer’s Notes:

rapprochements, pronounced: rap-rosh-ma’, is a French word meaning: to approach again; reconciliation]
This work for Inter-Cultural Orchestra had its beginnings in November 1999, after the first Westcoast Sacred Music Festival, when I approached Artistic Director Joseph “Pepe” Danza with the rather grandiose plan of writing a piece for everybody. His response was, “You’re on!” In the days and months that followed, Executive Director Nancy Fischer and I applied to the Vancouver Foundation for a grant to help fund the work. In June of this year we received word that a grant was forthcoming and since then we have been working feverishly (sometimes literally so) to make it real.

Truth to tell, the idea for an Inter-Cultural Orchestra had been germinating in me for a number of years, and the Sacred Music Festival seemed like a ‘divine invitation’ to finally get it done. When God thus opens a door it makes good sense to cross the threshhold, no? The work is meant to encapsulate what the Sacred Music Festival stands for – the coming together of peoples from all walks of human culture in their various ‘sacred’ aspects. Here then is an attempt to create a new sacred space as it were, a space ‘between’ the many sacred spaces we inhabit.

Again truly, it is not meant as an inter-faith work per se, though its subject matter, reconciliation, is certainly an inter-faith matter in our world today, as ever.

The work is comprised of 6 movements and its approximate duration is 40 minutes. The programmatic aspect of the work is the depiction of the stages one might go through in proceeding from Conflict to Reconciliation. The movements are titled as follows:

I. The Clash of Worlds (Conflict)
II. Far from the Struggle of Wills (Reflection)
III. Hustle Bustle (Action)
IV. I Dream of a Better World (Hope)
V. The Playful Spirit Returns (Resolution)
VI. Reconciliation

I wish to thank, from the bottom of my heart, my friends and colleagues who have made the work possible: Nancy Fischer, Pepe Danza, Steven Zaban, and the many outstanding professional musicians who have graciously given of their time and energy to bring the score to life. I am deeply honoured by and indebted to them all.

The work is dedicated to my partner in life and love, Naomi.

5. Excerpt from The King is Dancing (1988) (15′)

Tabla, “Indian” (tonic-dominant tuned) Guitars, World Percussion, Tambura

Composer’s Notes:

An ensemble work of a cross-cultural nature (India/West), based on the phrygian mode, it was a direct result of my studies in Madras, India, in the 80’s. The title has several meanings: firstly, I remembered a documentary about a Zulu chief who, after passing judgement in a tribal litigation, began to dance – enjoining the assembled members to do likewise. This image and idea resonated in me for some time, coming to represen ‘the dignity of the sensual world’. Then, well after I titled the work, I realized that there are other references to ‘a king who dances’ – a) King David danced before the people, and was criticized in some circles for ‘a lack of dignity’; and, b) very significantly for my journey in India, Lord Shiva, of Hindu mythology, dances an eternal dance of creation and destruction.

6. Excerpt from Can You Hear My Prayer (1989, 1988, 2002) (16-20′)
Sitar, “Indian” (tonic-dominant tuned) Guitar, Tabla, Tambura

7. Excerpt from Masala (1990) (10′)
2 Bansuris, Sitar, “Indian” Guitar, Tambura, Tabla, Mridangam

8. El Ginat Egoz (Into the Walnut Garden) -(2006) (7′)
Erhu, Zheng, 2 Uds

Composer’s Notes:
The words of the biblical book, the Song of Songs, have for thousands of years served as a wellspring of musical composition. The texts here were chosen for their very forthright exposition of love as a reflection and inspiration of the natural world.
The music attempts to paint a picture of longing, of rapture, and of passion expressed, and sometimes even misplaced. The overall material belongs in a Middle Eastern context, especially that of the music of Israel.

El Ginat Egoz is the fourth of a suite of pieces initiated by the Orchid Ensemble. The entire suite, still a work in progress, is meant to be a musical journey from one end of the Silk Road to the other, and is called Wan Li Xin (The Journey of Ten Thousand Miles). Needless to say, El Ginat Egoz belongs to the western end of the Silk Road, by the shores of the Mediterranean.

9. Camel Hop at the Caravanserai – (2007, 2010) (9′)
2 Zhengs, Ud, Santur, Djembe or Darabuka

Composer’s Notes:
The Caravanserai was an inn along the Silk Road, in the area of modern Iran, where Caravans could stop for refreshment. So it is easily a metaphor for a meeting place where stories of the world are shared, and, we fervently imagine, music jamming happens nightly. Aah my friend, remember the night the camels in the courtyard began to dance?

Moshe Denburg (b. 1949) grew up in Montreal, Canada, in a religious Jewish family. His musical career has spanned over three decades and his accomplishments encompass a wide range of musical activities, including Composition, Performance, Jewish Music Education, and Piano Tuning. He has travelled worldwide, living and studying music in New York, Israel, Montreal, Toronto, India, and Japan. From 1986-90 he studied composition with John Celona at the University of Victoria. Since 2000 he has guided the formation of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, and today serves as its Program Director.