The third song in this Sunday’s concert is my favorite of the pack and so I’ve saved it for last to talk about. Five Hebrew Love Songs composed by Eric Whitacre, songs by Hila Plitmann.
First off, the melodies and harmonies in this piece are both pleasant and haunting at the same time. A small string orchestra accompanies the choir. While the piece is modern, it isn’t so modern as to be completely insane. This piece tells a story from movement to movement, bookended by a simple melody that eloquently captures the emotions of the lovers who wrote it.
And that brings me to the other reason I love this piece. The story behind it is beautiful. Eric and Hila are married. This song was born while they were dating. Each movement/song is a snapshot of their relationship. The words of the fourth song speak of snow falling and the choir becomes both the snow and the tones of the bells that woke this couple during a stay in Germany. The third song is incredibly romantic and a snapshot of the kind of love I think we all strive for on some level. The fifth song is yet another look at this love, but more so, I think, a rich and deep expression of healing and care and compassion.
The words of the second song are
She is all mine,
She will kiss me!
and the music that brings the Hebrew to life begs to be danced to. I remarked with another choir member during a rehearsal once that you can’t help but want to take a woman in your arms and dance around the room with her while singing this song.
I won’t reprint the entire translation here, but hope they are included in the program (if they aren’t, I have them in my music). They are very much worth reading before the song is sung, as with Magnificat. And while you won’t be able to follow along with the choir by the translation alone, let the texture of the poem for each song sink into you while the music plays over your senses. I think then you’ll know why I speak of this music with such joy.