Here Comes Messiah!

Synopsis

Here Comes Messiah!, commissioned from Kovler by Carnegie Hall for the 2009 Upshaw/Golijov Workshop, follows a young woman through three stages that culminate in giving birth and oscillate between comedy and revelation. In the hospital soon to give birth, she is accosted by “chattering behind her back”. She insists all is normal and as it should be.

In Act 2, she can no longer deny her fate and her fear rises. She attempts to push down her fear with fantasies about her “cotton candy”, her sweet baby, and the niceties for him. A frightening vision of a descending falcon seems to threaten her child (the text builds a gradual allusion to the falcon and other elements in W.B. Yeats’ The Second Coming). Transitioning, both in terms of labor and delivery and into the final Act of the piece, she suffers the acute pain of being chosen and asks the ultimate questions, “Why me? Why my child?”

Act 3 brings her through the monumental throes of this seemingly unattainable childbirth, which give over to the wondrous secrets of Peliah.
Written by Janice Silverman Rebibo

Booking inquiries:


Team & Cast

Premiere Performance (Carnegie Hall)

Alan Pierson – Conductor
Tehila Nini Goldstein – Soprano
Golijov/Upshaw Professional Training Workshop Ensemble

2011 Version (Boston University Concert Hall)

Reut Rivka – Soprano

Ensemble:
Diamanda Dramm – Violin
Samuel Gold – Viola
Jason Coleman – Cello
Yoni Draiblate – Cello
Kathryn Schulmeister – Bass
Robyn Cho – Clarinet
Borey Shin – Accordion
Michael Roberts – Percussion
Matti Kovler – Piano
Sarah Fylak – Electronics
Director and Original Idea – Masha Nemirovsky
Production Manager – Benjamin C. Gram

Visual Concept and Design: Theodor Tezhik Company

Reviews

“Composers and Performers, Together as Creators”
May 11th, 2009, by Allan Kozinn

Matti Kovler’s “Here Comes Messiah!” — a monodrama, in some onomatopoetic detail, about giving birth — was sung, spoken, whispered and breathed, heavily, by Tehila Goldstein, an agile soprano. It, too, had a folk touch: its ending is a graceful setting of “Peliah,” a Hasidic song based on a Psalm text.

“The Art of (New) Song”
May 11th, 2009, by Pete Matthews

(…) Most memorable for me was Matti Kovler’s three-part song cycle Here Comes Messiah! In remarks before the performance, Kovler said he completely changed his conception of the work after hearing the remarkable soprano Tehila Goldstein, who is at least as much an actor as she is a singer. Sure enough, Goldstein whistled, keened and grunted through the poetic and religious texts, while Kovler looked on from the piano. His music bore a close resemblance to Bernstein’s, filled with all the same joy and wonder: “Where can I escape from Your spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend up to heaven You are there, if I descend into the netherworld, You are there. Such knowledge is too wondrous; I cannot attain it.” (Psalms 139) How these performers (who were led by Alarm Will Sound’s Alan Pierson) pulled off such warm, technically sound performances of brand new works with less than a week’s rehearsal time is a mystery, if not a miracle. Almost as much as the songs themselves.

Artists-entrepreneurs: The Osvaldo Golijov and Dawn Upshaw Young Artists Concert
May 12th 2009, by Sophie Delphis

…It is not surprising that I felt a particularly strong connection to Matti’s piece: I was there namely as part of his retinue. I am also familiar with his compositional idiom, and Here Comes Messiah! was clearly marked with the Kovler stamp. Matti’s instruments are not merely textural tools, but characters themselves. As the piece began, the breaths and physical movements of his solo singer, Tehila Goldstein (see picture with Matti), were echoed and magnified by the ensemble. From this point, there was no question that we were not watching a poem with orchestral accompaniment, but instead the group effort of a large cast of players – in which extraordinary poet-translator, Janice Silverman Rebibo unambiguously belongs. It was particularly in the second part of the piece that this group dynamic gained a strong hold over the audience’s attention. In the climax before the third and final part, the performers’ grip on the room was visceral, tangible, in a series of fortissimo pulses (labor pangs) from the instrumentalists, and exclamations from Tehila Goldstein. Here the expressivity she had already demonstrated earlier intensified exponentially, in her face, her stance, the timbre of her voice. Matti was at the piano, and he brilliantly made use of it in this passage, as both a harmonic and percussive instrument, driving the sound of the others around him. Although his part in Here Comes Messiah! is less central than in his Cokboy (performed earlier this year in Boston), and the work revolves around a woman’s experience in child birth, it is, nonetheless, entirely an extension of Matti himself. He is wholly present in his music, and not simply because of his compositional language or aesthetic. The audience does not need to be introduced to the composer, or his thought process, to become privy to his internal world – he wills us to come in.