Lullaby (my latest composition) was written for Vivian Melde’s new production of the play The Child Behind the Eyes, a monodrama by acclaimed Israeli playwright Nava Semel. Featuring actress Nava Sarricino, the production debuts at the Victoria Fringe Festival on Vancouver Island in August 2016, with previews in Seward and further performances in Anchorage in September.
Escaping home and the Alaskan winter, I read The Child Behind the Eyes when in Mexico. At a perfect, remote and quiet place I was drawn to the story of a mother whose son is born with Down syndrome and how she explores her memories of his birth and the first six years of his life. Performed worldwide, this play takes place in Tel Aviv and was written in 1986.
Vivian invited me to write music to complement the dialog and emphasize key dramatic moments. Portions of the lullaby have been woven into the sound design for the play.
“The lullaby is a vital part of this production, much like the connection and heartbeat between mother and child. When we started playing the music and sound cues during rehearsal, I got chills from how the music spoke to the soul of this play.” – Vivian Melde, Director
As a composer, my sound palette has always been nourished by geographical places and not only the ones familiar to me. If you name me a place, even if I have never been there before, my ears wander off, – only to settle when discovering an overall emotion. In The Child Behind the Eyes it was the mother’s love for her son that spoke to me first, and it was her unconditional love that urged me to compose Lullaby.
“I was very moved by your lullaby. Your music is enchanting and it brought back memories from my grandparents with whom I spoke Yiddish as a child. Although Hebrew is now our language in Israel, the world of the Jewish past still beats within my soul. I’m glad not everything is lost. Thank you for reviving this legacy through your music.” – Nava Semel, Playwright
The instrumental part unfolded itself first. Guitars, strings, a solo violin. But which language to choose for vocals? Hebrew, Yiddish, English? In The Child Behind the Eyes, the importance of grandmother Erika’s role, who is originally German, seemed obvious. I imagined she might have spoken Yiddish in her days. And so Viglid (Yiddish for Lullaby) was born. When sharing my lullaby with Nava Semel, the playwright offered to adapt Hebrew words to my song and thus Shir Eres (Hebrew for Lullaby) emerged. For the benefit of English speaking audiences I also created an English version. Lullaby concludes the set.
In the Alaska and the Pacific North-West production of The Child Behind the Eyes, the Hebrew version will take center stage, although the Yiddish and English version will also be heard.
This show is supported in part by a grant from the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.