Two concerts dedicated to peace, memory and intercultural rapprochement

Two concerts dedicated to peace, memory and intercultural rapprochement

To mark the centenary of the birth of composer Leonard Bernstein, the Aladdin Project, in partnership with The Three Cultures of the Mediterranean Foundation, sponsored two concerts of the Royal Symphony Orchestra of Sevilla, on September 13 and 14, 2018.

Under the direction of renowned conductor John Axelrod, the orchestra performed Samuel Zyman's "Sepharad" and Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 3 "Kaddish" on a libretto that the composer had asked Samuel Pisar, one of the youngest survivors of the Holocaust, with soprano Kelley Nassief and Íñigo Sampil choirmaster of the Maestranza Theater.

The ecumenical text "Dialogue with God" was fervently narrated by his wife, Judith Pisar, Special Envoy for Cultural Diplomacy, and his daughter, Leah Pisar, President of the Aladdin Project.

Kaddish ("sanctification") is an essential prayer of the Jewish liturgy recited in Aramaic on various occasions, notably at funerals or commemorative ceremonies. It does not, however, contain any reference to death: it is rather a song of praise to God, the "Great Name". Thus, the Jewish tradition requires that the bereaved person celebrates the glory of God and that he or she prays for the living and for peace while his/her thoughts are directed to the dead and his/her heart is inclined to sadness or even revolt .

This paradox is at the source of the work that this multidenominational prayer inspired Leonard Bernstein. The American composer of Jewish origin associated a dialogue - or rather a monologue - with God to it. Told by a narrator, this text is punctuated by three musical movements, songs by the choir, the solo soprano and the children's choir (Kaddish 1, 2 and 3). Bernstein's third symphony after Jeremiah (for mezzo-soprano and orchestra) and The Age of Anxiety (for piano and orchestra), Kaddish is one of Bernstein's most personal, original and ambitious works.

Kaddish, a dramatic representation of the questioning of humanity in the face of faith, was created in 1963 with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Israel. Perpetually dissatisfied with the text he had written, Bernstein then turned to other authors. The idea that Samuel Pisar could give a striking echo to his music came to him when he read Pisar’s book The Blood of Hope.

Samuel Pisar finally agreed to write the booklet of this symphony after the attacks of September 11, 2001, while fearful that the world would slip back into an era of deadly terror. His testimony gives the work another light. Memorial and ecumenical, he pleads for peace and reconciliation, while being a warning for our time and the times to come.

The second work of the program, Zyman’s Seferad is a concerto for guitar and orchestra inspired by a guitar suite of the same name by Sergio Bross, influenced by the traditional music of Sephardic Jews, who lived for centuries in Spain until their expulsion in 1492.