Hillula, 2007/2008 (15′)
for soprano and piano
Hillula is a setting of a portion of the Zohar, a work of Jewish mysticism from the 13th century that is one of the central texts of Kabbalah. As with most classic Jewish texts, the Zohar is largely comprised of allegorical stories, one of which involves the death of the eminent Rabbi and Talmudic scholar, Shimon bar Yochai. This death is described in terms of being a “wedding”, in the mystical sense of being “wed” to God upon dying. Anne-Carolyn Bird commissioned this work as part of her Bhakti Project, a conceptual concert and recording idea that brought together spiritual explorations with new music. The text is simultaneously Jewish, and therefore familiar in ways that are connected to my religious experience in Judaism, and also foreign and exotic, reframing the idea of devotion in a way that somehow breaks down the barriers between the ecstatic and the solemn. The music that I have written is a reflection on that idea, shaping the text to match my understanding of the narrative that is being told, and also to reflect the wonderful talents of Anne-Carolyn and Jocelyn, without whose extraordinary efforts this piece would not be possible.