The Five Books project began in 2007 with a commission from the Sabes JCC Center for Jewish Arts and Humanities. It is a story about the journey of people wandering in the wilderness, and it is a story about an individual called to lead, questioning his ability along the path. Five Books is a long journey by design, exploring different pathways through the topic and the material, in various configurations, all leading up to what will eventually become a large scale multimedia theatrical experience with interactive gallery exhibition, integrating what is learned along the path through the wilderness.
Five Books: First Series – the Journey
Five Books: First Series – the Journey is an oratorio commissioned by the Sabes JCC Center for Jewish Arts and Humanities, and produced at the Sabes JCC’s Dolly & Edward Fiterman Theatre in March 2008. The oratorio presents a series of reflections on the Five Books of Moses, viewed through the eyes of Moses as he travels along his life’s path, and as his life’s work unfolds. The work explores Moses’ role as leader and mediator between God and his people, and probes his personal challenges as an individual called to act.
Seminal moments and important individuals are represented as the stories unfold, with key themes rising to the surface, triggering our shared memories as we consider their significance, pointing the way towards how their essence is passed on from generation to generation. The focus is on the importance of how we travel the path, and not on the destination.
Five Books Choral Suite
The Five Books Choral Suite is a choral composition that continues the Five Books exploration into some of the stories and predominant themes found in the Five Books of Moses, the Old Testament. The underlying themes in the suite highlight humanity’s repeated efforts to realize their potential only to face failure and defeat, and their ongoing struggle to find their way “out of the wilderness” as they continue the journey. The underlying message of the work resides in the idea that we are all in the wilderness together, and whether or not we find our way out of the wilderness, we can at least find joy together on the journey.
The vision for the Five Books project always included a strong choral component, and some of the movements created in Five Books: First Series – the Journey were originally written in choral version. The Five Books Choral Suite evolved out of that process, adapting those original choral movements, and including new scenes.
Babel Clarion, for chorus and carillon, is based on the composition Babel Lament, from the Five Books Choral Suite. The composition was commissioned by Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association, with funding from the University of Minnesota Good Neighbor Fund, as part of a community-building initiative exploring how the carillon might become an enduring and unifying community symbol. Babel Clarion premiered at the River Bells Music Festival in Minneapolis on May 4, 2013, with the sound emanating from the Westminster Chimes speakers in the tower at First Congregational Church throughout the Marcy Holmes Neighborhood of Minneapolis.
The text is derived from the Tower of Babel story, a tale that appears in various forms in the history of several cultures. This interpretation is a call to join forces in unity to build something together. The story provides a context to reflect upon our history – our past attempts to unify with common purpose to accomplish something for the community – and to consider the implications of ignoring the call, or of failing in the effort. Babel Clarion provides an opportunity to step outside of our normal linear path and our divergent individual states of being, and serves as a catalyst to re-engage with our sense of community – our mutual well-being, and our sense of communal purpose.