This is the web site of "The Skies are Weeping", a new cantata by Philip Munger, in memory of Rachel Corrie. Its world premiere will be at the Hackney Empire, London, 1st. November 2005. This site is updated as information about the production becomes available.

Tuesday, August 16

Programme update

We are delighted that the concert will also include:

The UK premiere of The Singer of Wind and Rain, five Palestinian lyrics for mixed choir, set by Gregory Youtz, 2000. Gregory Youtz was born in 1956 in Beirut, Lebanon and received his musical education in the USA, where he now lives, composing and teaching.

Palestinian music and dance, performed by Al-Hurriyya
Palestinian Dabka Dance Group. Its members come from Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon and the UK. Although very new, it has had growing success in the UK, including the WOMAD Festival in Reading, and various street festivals in London. Its aim is to introduce Palestinian traditional dance to wider audiences in the UK.

The Tsivi Sharrett Ensemble. Led by the multi-talented Israeli Tsivi Sharrett, it finds inspiration in Yemenite, Israeli and Palestinian songs fused with jazz. The Ensemble has performed in a variety of venues in the UK, including the Jazz Café and at the South Bank Festival.

Monday, August 8

Five Songs on Palestinian Poems

Gregory Youtz has provided the following programme notes for his work The Singer of Wind and Rain: Five Songs on Palestinian Poems. Like the Jews, Palestinians have produced a remarkable number of gifted intellectuals, artists and writers over the centuries. Like the Jews, Palestinians have suffered under many foreign rulers and been described in the most negative stereotypical ways by a world that does not know them. Somehow, both cultures have managed to keep alive their identity, their culture and their ability to imagine beauty amid the pain of war and pogrom.
These poems represent a tiny slice of the powerful poetry created by modern Palestinian poets in the last fifty tumultuous years. These are voices rarely heard in the West, voices that must be heard if the terrible struggle in "The Holy Land" is ever to cease. These poems may serve to remind us of just how strongly a people can hold on to their identities and their hopes and their dreams.
The poems are drawn from the "Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature" edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi, published by Columbia University Press. All translations are used by permission of the editor.

Saturday, August 6

Please support this concert

The Skies are Weeping had to be withdrawn from its premiere in Alaska due to safety concerns for the student performers. The composer and soprano had received email and telephone threats. Music can and should deal with controversial topics. This work is the only known major classical piece to have been written about these events, or, probably, about the second intifada.

We are sure that you will feel that the music should be heard, free from prejudiced attack. In the belief that British society is more tolerant, we are now asking you to support the concert by buying tickets or donating. Surplus funds from donations and tickets will be given to the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions and the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. Please send cheques, payable to 'The Skies are Weeping' or Postal Orders to our Treasurer at PO Box 34265, London NW5 2WD. All contributions most gratefully received.

Monday, August 1

Text to 'The Skies Are Weeping', a cantata by Philip Munger

(Text published: April 25, 2004)

1. Choral Prelude: Psalm 137 (King James Version)

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.

For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.

How shall we sing the LORD's song in a strange land?

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.

If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.

Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.

O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.

Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

2. Dance for Tom Hurndall (no lyrics)

3. Aria-Lament: Rachel (For Rachel Corrie)

With the name Rachel,
she would be matriarch of the people,
those suffering a fearful life of drought,
loss of home and land,
history of ancestors
buried in heaps of disrespected earth,
she had no choice
but to follow her heart,
faith must have filled her soul,
that she could hold a child's tears
in the cup of her hand,
that her small body
would take the form of her spirit,
large enough to protect those she felt connected to,
she risked her last breath
against the hardness of steel,
her arms became wings of resolve,
she was the laughter of wind,
offering joy to those in lament,
this is my song to you young sister,
you have touched this world
with your strong voice
crying for justice.
(Phil Goldvarg -- March 18, 2003)

4. Song: God the Synecdoche in His Holy Land, in memoriam Rachel Corrie

Around you the father gods war. This
Father. That father. The other father.
What more dangerous place could
A woman stand, upright, than on that sand, as if
She were still antiphon to that voice, the other
Mind of that power. The very idea!
Crush her back in to her mother!
Crush her. Crush her. Consensus. War.
(Linda McCarriston)

5. Recitative: I had no mercy for anybody

I would erase anyone with the D-9, and I have demolished plenty. I wanted to destroy everything. I begged the officers, over the radio, to let me knock it all down; from top to bottom. To level everything. When I was told to bring down a house, I took the opportunity to bring down some more houses. For three days, I just destroyed and destroyed. The whole area. Iwanted to get to the other houses. To get as many as possible. I didn't see, with my own eyes, people dying under the blade of the D-9. But if there were any, I wouldn't care at all. If you knocked down a house, you buried 40 or 50 people. If I am sorry for anything, it is for not tearing the whole camp down. I had lots of satisfaction in Jenin, lots of satisfaction. No one expressed any reservations against doing it. Who would dare speak? If anyone would as much as open his mouth, I would have buried him under the D-9."
(Extract from the Gush Shalom translation of an interview in Yediot Aharonot, May 31, 2002.)

6. Song: The Skies Are Weeping

The birds have flown away
With rain-sodden flowers in hand
I wait for you, Rachel.
The rain drops trickle
Washing the scent off the mourning tulips
Pounding the healing earth
The howling winds and trembling blades of grass
Calling for you, Rachel.
Dust dancing around my knees
Walling me in, and my grief
From the weeping heavens faintly at first
I hear you, Rachel.
You give strength to my tears
And resolve to my limbs
As I stand up with my broken tulips
The skies are clearing
The earth is sprouting fresh blades of grass
That whisper your name, Rachel.
The winds are gentle
Reassuring in their calmness
Heaven and earth rejoice today
As you're with me again, Rachel.
(Thushara Wijeratna)

7. Chorale with soprano solo. Rachel's words (edited by Philip Munger)

Feel sick to my stomach a lot
from being doted on all the time,
very sweetly,
by people who are facing doom.
You can always hear the tanks and bulldozers
passing by.
I have had bad nightmares about tanks and bulldozers
outside our house
and you and me inside.
Tanks and bulldozers destroyed 25 greenhouses
the livelihoods for 300 people.
Then the bulldozers come and take out
people's vegetable farms and gardens.
This happens every day.
I think that I should at least mention that
I am also discovering a degree of strength
and of basic ability for humans to remain human
in the direst circumstances.
I think the word is dignity.
I wish you could meet these people.
Maybe, hopefully, someday
you will.