Joanna Estelle


"Song For Abwoon"
at the "Choral Gems of Our Time" Concert
April 6, 2013

Choral Gems Poster

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Joanna Estelle's latest major composition is "a mystical love song to the Creator of the Universe", not merely the piece that earned her a MA Music degree. Song for Abwoon was inspired by the work of renowned scholar, author and spiritual teacher, Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz, particularly his Prayers of the Cosmos.

The premise of this book is that Jesus spoke and taught in Aramaic, a highly interpretative language founded on a root-and-pattern system allowing for alternate translations of the same text. Song for Abwoon does not challenge the traditional Lord’s Prayer: rather, it expresses the composer’s response to this premise, as well as other influences, including the spiritual music of Hildegard of Bingen, Olivier Messiaen, and John Tavener.

A through-composed original setting of the Aramaic Lord's Prayer is superimposed over an English strophic song. Alternating Aramaic text sung by the mezzo soloist with midrash-derived original English text sung by the vocal ensemble evokes 'call and response' antiphonal singing of the Slavonic church in which Joanna was raised. The soloist functions as a cantor in both the Jewish and Christian liturgical sense, while the vocal ensemble represents the congregation. Discordant elements are incorporated to represent humanity out of alignment with the Creator e.g. Scriabin’s 'mystic' or 'Promethean' chord remains unresolved at the end of the piece.