Stephen Horenstein
Music, Arts and Society

Soundscape of Jerusalem–No.5 (Homespun)

Part I. Winter storm warning.  Madness. Winds crash dazzling, timing their throws against our occasional gaze.  Winter cries solid beneath the floor board cracks, bearing down upon us. We who are frozen from non-action, not knowing a miracle from a nonsensical jelly bean.  The tree branches are frozen from desire; they start to move incessantly against the thick grey sky.  Winter’s wings, southward formed shapes, strange, unrecognizable.   A marching band in the distance; the parade comes closer; it’s saturated by the rains, but still makes its way down a deep gully.  Time to pray. Time to lower the head, bowing, while grey-white slicks emerge, fondly embracing what’s left of summer’s solstice, now that winter’s solstice (one day’s hence) is bleating, a sacred kid caught in hyperspace’s bizarre fence.   This city “J” is inundated by whispers, century’s battles, rumors, flayings.  Blue then to grey then to rain then to winds that crash shy, and blare cries of despair; cars swept away by the deluge of car dung. My body, planted firmly beside me, bolted, strapped in, to ride out the spectacle.  Winter begins it’s unpredictable glaring self. Constant everlasting, picking up steam.   With words dictated to us like Coleridge or St. Augustin, we are merely vessels.  Today’s holy message, to stay on course and simply create, hoping to circumvent the inevitable…..and remember….winds crash dazzling their throws against our occasional gaze….

Part II. Morning. With clear eyes. The sky, drabbed cotton homespun, static, foreboding, and I with unusually clear morning eyes, look out over the horizon seeing bare bones and soft white.  This morning the trees have little or no movement, strangely silent.  This soundscape is anything but lively, it simply sits.  Only the fridge’s whir, which too is staticized, blends splendidly with its surroundings.  I try to imagine I am by the sea, eating up its infinite action,  the unpredictable rhythms of its waves.  My imagination roams wild, for the static homespun, like miles of Kansas wheat fields, has left us numbed, looking into the future.  Where unknowns stimulate the chakras, the static serene scene is too foreboding to give comfort.  I shiver to think of what’s ahead.  Suddenly the needles of willows shiver all so slightly.  The scene awakens with graceful gentle arpeggiaturas and short loops; these are not grand ostinati, so like Bach, designed so we too can shiver and marvel at the ineffable.  These are tingles of romance, teasing us, echoes of their former beauty, like scattered musical phrases gathered together, frolicking on distant shores.       (Drawing, above, by Jacob Yona) Click link to hear music: Quintet No. 2 (Portals),  3rd movement, excerpt, by Stephen Horenstein, performed by the Tel Aviv Wind Quintet , with Shani Tiberg-Shachar oboe;  piece commissioned by and premiered at Festival de Chaillol, France.

About the Author
Stephen Horenstein is a composer, researcher and educator. His repertoire of musical works has been performed and recorded worldwide. He has been a recipient of the Israel Prime Minister's Prize for Composers and the National Endowment of the Arts (USA). His teaching has included Bennington College, Brandeis University, Tel Aviv University, Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance; residencies at Stanford University, York University, California Institute of the Arts, and others. He is Founder and Director of the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music, established in 1988 to bring the music of our time to a wider audience.
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