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Death and Birth


A six-minute video excerpt from Death and Birth

Death and Birth is a large-scale, 45-minute, interdisciplinary work in Hebrew and Arabic for two soprano soloists, mixed chorus, piano solo, and string orchestra. The piece opens with a question that my son Maor asked me when he was four years old: “Dad, when someone dies, at the same time, is someone else, in a different place, born?” This question is the starting point for a musical journey in time, combining twenty-five different literary sources, dealing with creation, birth, pregnancy, infertility, death, funeral, afterlife, and prayer. The two soloists share their experiences in first-person accounts in both Hebrew and Arabic, woven together to form a single dramatic narrative, with the chorus, piano, and orchestra finding uncommon connections between them. The piece ends with a lengthy coda sung in the chorus to the words “let there be light” in both languages. Through the parallels between death and birth, the work delivers an artistic message that explores two milestones in a universal life journey from the unknown to the unknown in which all of humanity participates.


Music: Noam Sivan

Textual sources in order of their appearance in the piece:

Maor Sivan, Rachel the matriarch, Mahmoud Darwish, Rachel Bluwstein, Fanny Neuda, Geula Awaknin, Abu Tamam, The Book of Zohar, Zelda, Midrash Pirke d’Rabbi Eliezer, A. B. Yehoshua, The Hadith, Enas Massalha, Rosh Hashana prayer, Maya Hartman, Rasem Nashef, Fatima Bat’hish, Nava Semel, Khalil Gibran, Hattan Ibn Al Mu’alla, Khalil Gibran, Book of Genesis.

Libretto: over twenty literary sources, collected and arranged by Noam Sivan, Enas Massalha, and Maya Hartman.

Premiere performance:

Conductor – Barak Tal

Soprano soloists – Enas Massalha and Einat Aronstein

Piano – Noam Sivan

Tel-Aviv Soloists chamber orchestra

Collegium Singers

This project was made possible with the help of the Adele and John Gray Endowment Fund.

Thanks are due to all the authors and copyright holders who gave permission to use their texts, as well as all the friends and colleagues who contributed inspiring ideas to this project.

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