ALL YOU SHINING STARS
for improvised trumpet and strings
All You Shining Stars is by US composer Shanan Estreicher written for Itamar Borochov (trumpet) and based on the book of Psalms. This work incorporates Itamar's quarter-tone Middle-Eastern aesthetic as a soloist within the Western classical music tradition, and has recently been recorded for release later in 2023.
Livestream premiere February 2021
Program notes by composer
In 2016 I attended a performance of the Itamar Borochov Quartet at the Montreal Jazz Festival. I had always wanted to compose a work for a soloist that involved extended ornamentation and improvisation but never found a musician whose style matched my own musical aesthetic. I knew instantly I had found a kindred artistic spirit in trumpeter, Itamar Borochov. This encounter was the beginning of my musical journey to compose All You Shining Stars for improvised trumpet and strings.
My inspiration for this piece came from a beautiful summer evening in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan watching a meteor shower against the brilliant Milky Way. My thoughts instantly turned to Psalm 148 and the line, “Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars.” I decided to compose a three-movement work which would be a meditation on this psalm as well as two others. I was certain Itamar Borochov’s ethereal trumpet playing would fit perfectly with the textures I was hearing.
Movement 1 “All You Shining Stars” is based on three musical ideas. The first is a celestial texture in the upper strings representing the praises offered from the heavens in the psalm. The second idea is a gentle but declamatory melody in the trumpet which is freely ornamented. The final idea is chords in the low range of the strings which represent the praises offered from man, the earth, and the sea.
Movement 2 “Arrows” is a meditation on Psalm 38. The title comes from the line, “Your arrows have pierced me.” The intention of the music is to reflect the intense pain of the psalmist as he repents to God for his guilt and sin. I reference the Jewish liturgical music of my youth to create the lamenting cantorial melody. The rhythmic pulsing motives in the introduction and middle section represent the arrows piercing the psalmist’s flesh. The cantorial melody is first performed in the trumpet with minimal embellishments and a static accompaniment. The second repetition of the melody is highly ornamented with complex polyrhythmic patterns in the strings.
Movement 3 “Woven”, the tender conclusion to this work, is based on Psalm 139. The psalmist expresses intimate feelings to God when he writes, “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” This final movement features an extended trumpet solo where Itamar plays freely over a chord progression in the strings. The overall musical texture is based loosely on the polyphony of sacred Renaissance vocal music with the trumpet and five string parts playing independent melodic lines, woven together to create a lush sonority.
composed by Itamar Borochov
In 2020, Israeli-born New York resident trumpeter Itamar Borochov was commissioned by the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra, Texas to compose a new work, which adapts traditional Middle Eastern musical concepts to a Western classical string orchestra + jazz quartet.
The seven-movement suite is a reflective, mystic and emotional work, composed during lockdown when Borochov spent many enforced solitary hours finding meaning and respite by playing ‘Taqsim’ – melodic solo musical improvisations (which usually precede traditional Middle Eastern compositions). ‘Emergence’ emerged from this ongoing deep study of traditional Middle-Eastern maqam (maqamat - modes) and an exploration of both the common elements and different aesthetics of this music when expressed in union with western harmony and instrumentation.
The work received its premiere performance in Bryan, Texas in June 2021.
Program notes by composer
I. "Mawwal in Ab Nawa" Mawwal is a traditional form of vocal performance from the greater middle-east. Slow tempo, and sentimental in nature, it is usually presented before the actual song begins. The singer performing a mawwal would usually lament and long for something, such as a past lover, a departed family member or a place, in a wailing manner.
II. "Dirge" A sombre movement of lament, expressing mourning or grief.
III. "Where My Future Lies"
IV. "Nasrin" From Persian - "Wild Rose".
V. "Wabisabi" In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Characteristics of wabi-sabi aesthetics and principles include asymmetry, roughness, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and the appreciation of both natural objects and the forces of nature.
VI. "Lama Lo" From Hebrew - “Why not”, “Why should he” or “Why him”.
VII. "Epilogue - Emerge On Me"
Notes for promoters/venues
All You Shining Stars and Emergence are scored for jazz quartet (trumpet, piano, bass, drums) and string orchestra (minimum 9 strings + conductor). With additional rehearsal time it is possible to use local professional string players (or University music program students).
Both works together run to approximately one hour. They can be presented individually, as a full concert, or one half of a two-set concert with the additional set constituting a quartet performance of Itamar Borochov’s original music from his forthcoming CD release (2023) and Blue Nights (2019).
Photo Credit: Zeynep Ayta