As the 2022 laureate of the 2022 Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music, Harlap’s new work premiered at the Azrieli Music Prizes Gala Concert
The 2022 Azrieli Music Prizes (AMP) Gala Concert, in Montréal, Canada, recently featured premiere performances by the 2022 AMP laureates, Iman Habibi, Aharon Harlap, and Rita Ueda.
Established in 2014, the competition is comprised of three categories: The Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music, The Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music, and The Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music.
The prize for each of the three categories includes $50,000 CAD, an AMP Gala performance of the work, and a recording on the Analekta label.
The 2022 Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music went to Aharon Harlap, for his “Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord.” The performers featured were the Orchestre Métropolitain, conductor Alexandre Bloch, and soprano Sharon Azrieli.
The Violin Channel had a chance to learn more about the work from the composer himself…
What was the idea or inspiration behind the work?
The “Psalms” have always been a great inspiration for me, offering comfort and solace to the believer for more than 2,000 years. The many different psychological and philosophical situations related in the psalms, such as depression, hope, deliverance, strife, love for the one God, etc., offer the creative inspirations that transform the text into music by me as the composer.
Why did you decide to apply to the Azrieli composition competition?
Being a laureate of this very prestigious competition gives the composer recognition on a large scale and the possibility to have their work performed and heard worldwide. This certainly will open more doors for me in the future and give me the confidence to continue on this musical journey to the best of my ability.
What is your compositional process, and how do you take a piece from an idea in your mind to a full-fledged score?
“Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O’ Lord” is a song cycle for soprano solo and orchestra. There are five movements, each of which consists of a psalm of a different mood and character. The words of the Psalms have been my inspiration throughout. I let them serve as my musical guide. For me, the work begins at the piano and once that is completed (the text and music becoming one entity), I proceed to orchestrate the work which adds enormously to the integrity, passion, and depth of the inspired text at hand.
What do you hope listeners will take away with them upon listening to the piece?
Since the Psalms are sung by soprano in the original Hebrew (a language which is not understood by the majority of audiences), I asked the Azrieli Foundation to translate in the program notes all of the Psalms that I chose into both English and French. It is important that each person in the audience read through these Psalms as they appear, close their eyes, and envision how I have related each one to music. If they are sincerely moved by this, then I can say that I have succeeded in accomplishing my goal.
How did it feel hearing your work performed at the Azrieli Gala in October?
There is no greater gift for a composer than to hear their works performed before a live audience, and to hear the positive and sincere applause at the end of the performance. It certainly is worth all those long and tedious hours to me, working alone in my room while creating this work. I believe that the Gala performance on October 20th in Montréal by all those concerned (soloist, conductor, and orchestra) was undoubtedly a wonderful gift that I have received and for which I am deeply grateful.