T’shuvah is based on two dances. The first is one I heard chanted by a young boy in a Morroccan synagogue in Paris many years ago. The text was the well known ‘v’ahavta...’ prayer (‘and you shall love...’), and I remember marveling at the simplicity, the foreignness and the familiarity of the tune. The second, a faster one, I wrote, and it is influenced by Hassidic wordless melodies as well as Middle Eastern inflections. They are both meditative and repetitive.

As such, the piece seemed from the outset to demand improvisation. I was thus especially pleased to write this piece for Sara Schoenbeck: her improvisational voice is rich in love and skill. Just as I felt at home in an old and new world in that synagogue twenty years ago, so I felt at home writing for Sara and trusting her improvisation.

The title, T’shuvah, means "returning" in Hebrew. The word has mystical connotations relating to a source to which one can strive to return. The word also means "repentance," implying that repentance is linked with both tangible and spiritual action; that in fact there may be little distinction between the two. Funnily enough I’m not sure what any of this has to do with the specific notes of this piece other than that since music can seem to take up where words leave off I should leave it at that.

Video Credits:
Sara Schoenbeck: Bassoon
Erick km Clark: violin
Daphne Chen: violin
Kira Blumberg: viola
Lynn Angebranndt: cello