Can We Tell Them We Are Hungry?

In last week's overview of ZABUR, the upcoming world premiere by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, we looked at the use of traditional Psalm texts (Psalms 2 and 102) by composer Mohammed Fairouz. These texts, sung by the Symphonic Choir in Arabic, form the framework of this two-movement work for chorus, children's choir and symphony orchestra.

This week, we look more closely at the unique dramatic construct present in ZABUR. Using an original libretto by the composer and author Najla Said, the story focuses on a group of citizens gathered for protection in a bomb shelter (the geographic location is not specified, as if to permit each listener to provide his or her personal context). David (called by the Arabic name-form Daoud), historically credited as the author of the Book of Psalms, struggles to put pen to paper as the sounds of warfare continue outside. Jibreel (the angel Gabriel) joins Daoud, inspiring him to solicit the voices of those gathered with him to tell their story. Jibreel suggests “we should join in your effort and write songs together, to express our overwhelming feelings and fears and thoughts.”

The children's chorus (our performance will feature the Indianapolis Children's Choir) begins the sharing with a poignant lament, “Can we tell them we are hungry?” Simply sung yet profoundly shattering, the children's voices remind us of the innocence lost in warfare and strife.

Gabriel's message is an apt reminder for us all, and especially for those of us who love the choral art. Joining our voices together, sharing and articulating our common and unique experiences in song, is a healing act, and one that draws us together. We look forward to sharing this with you all, at our performance at the Hilbert Circle Theater, featuring the Symphonic Choir, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Children's Choir and soloists Dann Coakwell and Michael Kelly.

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