Folksongs, passed from singer to singer through the oral tradition, often exhibit wide variation in their still-recognizable melodies. I learned this version of “Leshana haba’a” years ago from my friend Deborah Morris, from whom I learned a number of gems from the world’s folk music traditions during the year I spent as a volunteer at Gould Farm in Massachusetts.
This arrangement, structured to expresses the dispersed Jewish community’s hope for reunion “next year in Jerusalem,” is comprised of two materials: a newly-composed, sorrowful theme, expressive of unrequited longing, and the traditional folksong itself, lively with excitement and hope. The piece begins with the soloists’ lament – singing as if across great distances to their far-flung kin. But out of sorrow, hope arises in the form of the traditional song, sung slowly at first, then faster. After a brief return to the opening theme, sung again by the soloists in close canon, the folksong rises at a fast clip to a rousing, flourishing culmination, expressing the joy of eventual reunion.
Commissioned by the 2011 ACDA Women’s Choir R & S Commissioning Consortium, chaired by Iris S. Levine.