Awhile back, I heard a well-regarded poet read her words so woefully on the PBS ‘News Hour’ that I truly could not follow the thread of meaning — the delivery was wooden, and so very artificial. In response, I wrote this:
The Music in Language
by Judith Lang Zaimont
[ (c) copyright 2009 ]
Judith Lang Zaimont: A Woman of Valor
The Milken Archive of American Jewish Music and Naxos American Classics have released a new CD (#8.559444) featuring "Sacred Service for the Sabbath Evening" for baritone soloist, chorus and orchestra and three other major works by Judith Lang Zaimont for solo voices, choirs and small chamber ensembles.
The Milken Archive recently interviewed the composer about her life, her family and her music. They describe her in this way:
"The phrase eshet hayil, which appears in the Book of Proverbs (31:10-31), has most often been translated literally as "a woman of valor."
But as Milken Archive Artistic Director Neil W. Levin points out, eshet hayil can also be translated to mean "a woman of true [i.e. inner] strength," "a woman of accomplishment" and "a woman of true worth."
In any translation, the phrase aptly describes composer Judith Lang Zaimont."
You can read the complete interview online here.
CD highlights include Gerard Schwarz and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin performing the most complete recording to date of seven movements from "Sacred Service for the Sabbath Evening" as well as the World Premiere recording of "A Woman of Valor" for mezzo and string quartet conducted by Samuel Adler. This CD also includes the second recording of Parable - A Tale of Abram and Isaac and the re-release of the premiere recording of "Meditations at the Time of the New Year."
The works included on the release are:
- Sacred Service for the Sabbath Evening - James Maddalena, baritone; Ernst Senff Choir (Sigurd Brauns, chorusmaster), Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Gerard Schwarz, conductor
- A Woman of Valor for mezzo and string quartet - Margaret Kohler, soprano; Everest String Quartet: Stephen Rose and Jeanne Preucil Rose, violins; Joan DerHovsepian, viola; Brant Taylor, cello, Samuel Adler, conductor
- Parable - A Tale of Abram and Isaac - Frances Lucey, soprano; John Aler, tenor; Randall Scarlata, baritone, Harold Lester, harpsichord; The Ruskin Ensemble; Laudibus Choir, Michael Brewer, conductor
- Meditations at the Time of the New Year - Martha Cowan, soprano; Kimball Wheeler, mezzo-soprano, Theresa Diamond, glockenspiel; Timm Boatman, tubular bells, Choral Society of Southern California, Nick Strimple, conductor
The Milken Archive has also written the following about this disk, "The works heard on this disc span a creative period of 20 years and constitute a musical portrait of the composer... Among them is Zaimont's compact but intense music drama for soloists, choir and strings, Parable: A Tale of Abram and Isaac. In this work, in a chilling twist of the archetypal biblical narrative, the patriarch Abraham indeed kills his beloved son, Isaac, ignoring God's last-minute reprieve. Parable is based on a powerful poem by Wilfred Owen, the English-Welsh poet who was killed in action just one week before the end of World War I, which indicts mankind for its brutal sacrifice of an entire generation's youth - 20 million soldiers and civilians. The release of this recording coincides with the observance of Veteran's Day in the United States and Armistice Day in Europe."
"Also heard on this CD are seven movements from Zaimont's Sacred Service for the Sabbath Evening, a religiously oriented but extra-liturgical extended cantata for baritone soloist, chorus and symphony orchestra that is designed for concert rather than synagogue performance. Based largely on inspirational prose and quasi-poetic texts in English from the Union Prayer Book of the American Reform Movement, this richly orchestrated work is alternately dramatic and meditative. "
Publisher information for the specific works is listed below.
This new CD featuring "Scared Service for the Sabbath Evening" will be available at all fine record outlets and also through The Milken Archive at http://www.milkenarchive.org/ and Naxos at http://www.naxos.com/.
Composer Judith Lang Zaimont is internationally recognized for her distinctive style, characterized by its expressive strength and dynamism. Recent accolades include a 2003 Aaron Copland Award, and a 2005-6 Artists Fellowship from the Bush Foundation, and the 2006-7 Kaplan Foundation wind ensemble commission; appointments as Commissioned Composer of the California Music Teachers Association, Commissioned Composer for the International San Antonio Piano Competition, and Honored Composer at the 11th Van Cliburn International Competition (2001). Among her many earlier honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, artist's grants from both National Endowments (Arts and Humanities), and First Prize in the international 1995 McCollin Competition for Composers (for "Symphony No. 1", performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1996). Her music is widely performed throughout the U.S. and Europe and has been recorded for the Naxos, Koch International Classics, Arabesque, Milken Family Foundation, Albany, Jeanne, Leonarda, Northeastern, and 4Tay labels. Her principal publishers are MMB Music, Inc., Galaxy/ECS, Vivace, Jeanné, C. F. Peters, Lyra and Walton.
Her music has been widely documented (12 doctoral papers to date), and her biography is found in most standard reference works (e.g., New Grove's). Zaimont works are cited on two "Best of the 20th Century lists" (Chamber Music America; Piano & Keyboard Magazine), and she is the subject both of individual chapters in specialist volumes and major articles in professional journals. Judith Zaimont also brings outstanding academic credentials to her musical activities, having served for many years as a distinguished composition teacher at New York's Queens College and Adelphi University, Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory, and Minneapolis's University of Minnesota School of Music. More information about Ms. Zaimont, including sound clips of many of her compositions, is available at her website http://www.jzaimont.com/.
She is represented by Jeffrey James Arts Consulting, who can be contacted at 516-797-9166 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sacred Service for the Sabbath Evening - published by Galaxy Music Corporation (E.C. Schirmer) - http://www.ecspublishing.com/
A Woman of Valor - published by NewMusicJukebox - http://www.newmusicjukebox.org/
Parable - A Tale of Abram and Isaac - published by Hildegard Publishing Company - http://www.hildegard.com/
Meditations at the Time of the New Year - published by NewMusicJukebox - http://www.newmusicjukebox.org/