A Jewish Composer for Our Time

Navona Records, 2011
Album by Meira Warshauer

Albany Records, 2007
Album by Meira Warshauer

Who knew that by 2012 the world of classical music would be so wonderfully eclectic, unpredictable, and adventurous? Who knew that composers would freely borrow from folk and popular styles, as well as ancient traditions? Listeners are welcoming this trend with relish, turning toward this “new” music for inspiration, soul nourishment, and a connection to ancient roots.

The term “classical” is far more inclusive than a generation ago. Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven are only part of the rich musical palette of today’s concert music. Composers who would once have been considered fringe for their political, social, or religious concerns are now embraced by orchestras across the country. Meira Warshauer, a composer with many commissions and works to her credit, exemplifies these new developments and speaks authentically from her Jewish identity and deeply felt spirituality. Her works reflect her fascination with Jewish, classical, and world music, and her admirable skills as a composer. She uses the power of pure music to evoke deep feelings of peace, beauty, reverence, and gratitude in which life is affirmed. And while she focuses her works on Jewish themes, her music reflects the enormous width of world music with a generous helping of Coplandesque grandeur.

Warshauer’s newest album draws listeners into a lush symphonic world under the able baton of Petr Vronsky leading the Moravian Philharmonic. In it, Warshauer presents two works: Living Breathing Earth, the symphony whose title also graces the album, and Tekeeyah, scored for a shofar-trombone soloist and orchestra. Both works inhabit an accessible and rich sound world. They have a contemporary feeling, with driving rhythms and colorful percussion. And both works incorporate the strong Jewish themes Warshauer explores in most of her compositions.

The first piece in the album, Living Breathing Earth, comes in four movements and follows a fast/slow/fast/slow progression. The first movement, “Call of the Cicadas,” is extremely dynamic and exciting—an introduction portraying world-shaping energies. Strings imitate the lush sounds of cicadas, and varied percussion instruments maintain a pulsing, driving rhythm.  Delicate melodies are woven together to create a sort of paean to the fertility of our fragile earth.

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