Tapestry – Program

Sunday, May 1 at 4 pm
Pre-concert Conversation at 3:30 pm
with Sheila Silver, composer
Upstairs at Club Helsinki Hudson

Watch a Video of Tapestry

The Spirit Takes Flight

Rainha Santa Isabel – Traditional romanceiro, Portugal

Karitas habundat, Antiphon for Divine Love – Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)

Ave Maris Stella – Las Huelgas Codex (13th century)

From The Nine Orders of the Angels – Patricia Van Ness (b. 1951)
Nos sumus Custodes Angeli
Raphael sum Virtutum
Angelus sum Thronorum
Angeli ab lacrimis Michaelis nati
Michael sum Seraphim

Intermission

The Tale of the White Rooster – Sheila Silver (b. 1946)
a cantata for voices, percussion, and Tibetan singing bowls

Program Notes
Our program travels from west to east and past to present framed by two tales: a medieval Portuguese tale of the miracles of St. Isabel and The White Rooster, a tale of compassion set in modern day Tibet. Between the two tales, we weave together a mix of medieval and contemporary songs exploring universal ideas of spirituality.

Born in Saragossa Spain, Isabel left her home to assume the throne of Portugal as a young teenager. The queen quickly won the love of her subjects and was referred to as “The Peacemaker” due to her skillful mediation between various warring factions. After the death of her husband, she became a nun, dedicating her life to good works. Her popularity increased over time as numerous tales of her “miracles” spread throughout Portugal via song and storytelling. She was canonized in 1625.

Karitas Habundat is an enchanting antiphon about the power of all embracing charity and love by our early muse, Hildegard von Bingen. Hildegard’s texts are powered with upwardly surging passion unparalleled by any other music of her time.

Ave Maris Stella, comes from a codex from c. 1300 which originated in and has remained in the Cistercian convent of Santa Mar僘 la Real de Las Huelgas in Burgos, in northwestern Spain. It brings forth the familiar image of Virgin Mary as a star of the sea, a navigator’s star, intercessor for all humans.

In The Nine Orders of the Angels,  a song cycle composed  especially for Tapestry, composer and poet Patricia Van Ness evokes scriptural imagery within which she  “used the established definitions of each of the angelic orders as a starting point, and from there developed texts interspersed with fragments of angelic lore.” The last movement, Michael sum Seraphim, leaves the listener with the feeling of being enveloped in Michael’s lush eternal song.

The White Rooster is a dramatic cantata, along the lines of a short opera, created by composer Sheila Silver and librettist Stephen Kitsakos for Tapestry. Five Tibetan Buddhist nuns are fleeing to India when one of them is wounded. They take refuge in an abandoned hut. To console their sister, the nuns enact a Tibetan folktale. In the end, help comes from an unexpected source. Emanating a spirit of reconciliation and healing, the piece celebrates the power of individual acts of compassion.
The thirty-five minute work is composed for six Tibetan singing bowls, hand percussion, and four treble voices and was commissioned buy the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, in conjunction with The Tibetan Shrine from the Alice S. Kandell Collection and Lama, Patron Artist: The Great Situ Panchen.
The white scarf used in this piece, a khatag, is a traditional Tibetan ceremonial object representing goodwill, auspiciousness, and compassion, and is presented to a person or deity as an indication of honor and respect.

The composer adds, “I would like to extend a special thanks to Sabchu Rinpoche, not only for his insights and explanations of Buddhist philosophy, which were invaluable in shaping the libretto, but for his beautiful, chanting and singing which inspired the settings of many of the mantras. The music for Om mani peme hung and Om a hung benza guru pemma siddhi hungis based, in part, on traditional Tibetan melodies. The setting of Namo Buddhaya is based on an original melody composed by Sabchu Rinpoche. Michael Wilpers, Freer and Sackler Galleries, Washington DC

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