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Composer Aharon Harlap Discusses his Work, "Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord"

The Violin Channel spoke with Harlap about their work with the Azrieli Foundation and the upcoming U.S. premiere on March 28


The Azrieli Music Prizes (AMP) – celebrating 10 years of excellence in music creation – will return to New York City with three remarkable new works for soloists and orchestra by Iman HabibiAharon Harlap, and Rita Ueda.

On March 28, at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s will perform these three U.S. premieres, led by guest conductor Steven Mercurio, alongside internationally renowned soloists Sharon Azrieli, Sepideh Raissadat, Naomi Sato, and Zhongxi Wu.

The Violin Channel talked with Aharon Harlap to discuss his piece "Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord," which you can hear below:


Aharon, what did it mean for your work to be recognized through the Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music? Can you tell us more about your inspiration behind this piece?

To be recognized on an international level such as with the Azrieli prize is without doubt a great honor. Being Jewish myself and winning a prize of this status for Jewish music is certainly very meaningful to me. I have chosen the Psalms that have offered solace, peace, and comfort for many generations, not only to the Jews but to Christians as well. These psalms translated into musical terms pass from despair to hope and to the final celebration of the highest praise for God's works, and the complete and utter confidence in His power and strength. The words and meaning of these psalms have been my inspiration throughout.


How has the piece evolved since you composed it?

I originally composed the work for solo soprano and piano. As I developed as a composer, I decided to orchestrate the piano accompaniment for chamber orchestra, which without doubt, through the different colors of the many orchestral instruments gives a new and more powerful meaning to the text, not to mention the confidence and support it instills in the soprano's performance.


What are you gaining from the experience of working on your piece with different orchestras and conductors? How does it feel to hear your pieces with (we’re guessing) slightly different interpretations?

There is no greater gift for a composer than to hear his/her works performed by wonderful orchestras such as the Montreal Metropolitan, London Philharmonia, and the St. Luke's in New York. Having different conductors perform this work in the past and present has given me new insight through their different interpretations (dynamics, tempi, phrasing ), and thus has paved the way in many respects for future compositions.


This NYC Concert is your last commitment for the Azrieli Music Prizes. How would you characterize your prize journey? What would you tell other composers about the AMP experience?

The Azrieli Prize journey has been uplifting in many ways. Firstly, I am uplifted by the status it has given me as a composer, the confidence it has instilled in me for future compositions, and knowing that my music is enjoyed and admired by the soprano soloist, conductor, orchestral members, and audience alike. It has also been a great honor and privilege to meet my wonderful co-Laureates Iman Habibi and Rita Ueda, not to mention the entire Azrieli staff. I believe that all of the above is enough to recommend to composers wherever you are, to apply for this prestigious event.

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