Jonathan Berger

Jonathan Berger

Elliott Carter Rome Prize
September 12, 2016–July 31, 2017
Profession
Composer and Professor, Department of Music, Stanford University
Project title
Rime Sparse, and Todt Durch Detranken (Death by Drowning)
Project description

Rime Sparse for soprano and piano trio will set select texts from Petrarch’s Il Canzoniere. The work, a cycle of five songs, will premiere in 2017 with the soprano Julia Bullock and members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Todt Durch Dertrunken Gevarn (Death by Drowning), for voices and chamber orchestra, will comprise parables taken from a variety of immigrant cultures—a Syrian folktale, a story from the Eritrean Tigre people, a Mexican tale in which Christ deceives the devil, and the title “Chelm” story, in which an unintentionally recalcitrant fish is sentenced to death by drowning for slapping the Rabbi who had bought him for the Sabbath dinner. The work is inspired by the tradition of transmuting great drama to Yiddish theater to give expression to the trials and tribulations of the refugee community in New York’s Lower East Side in the early 1900s.