"Tamar of the River" is a drama-desk nominated music-theatre work which elaborates on a short episode in the book of Genesis. Our story is told through a combination of traditional dramatic storytelling, exciting 12-part composed and improvisatory vocal singing, and inventive choreography and staging.
In this war-divided world, one young woman is called to raise her voice. As Tamar sets out single-mindedly in pursuit of peace, each decision that brings her closer to her goal also brings unanticipated, sometimes tragic consequences. Resonating with the traumatic cyclical violence in the Middle East, Tamar is an allegory about ferocity of love and the potency of belief. It is about fear driving people to contradict themselves and act in opposition to their own wishes. The music draws from aspects of Jewish liturgical music, Islamic azans, European opera, jazz harmonies, African-American gospel, Balkan timbres, and even some Balinese monkey chant, while the score as a whole is situated inside the musical-theatre tradition. Weaving in and out of the action, the character of the River (God in this world) is sung and danced by multiple singers, creating a bridge between singing and speaking that reflects the bridge between reality and imagination that exists for our characters. The orchestration combines Eastern and Western instruments.
For Tamar, the River’s music forms the path to a world she senses but finds difficult to articulate in words. But in singing Tamar finds a way to ecstatically unite herself with that world. But Tamar´s journey is not a linear one - at other times her intense personal struggles are overpowering and in these cases, music becomes an expression of what is raw and primal within her. In fact, this piece bounces between the primal and the transcendent, as Tamar journeys to integrate such polarities into a complete experience of the world.
Tamar was first commissioned and workshopped by Signature Theatre Company under a grant from the American Musical Voices Project: The Next Generation. An oratorio version of the show was produced by New York Theatre Barn and Choral Chameleon in March 2013, (direction:Joe Barros; musical direction:Vince Peterson). Prospect Theater Company developed produced the world premiere production in October, 2013. In September, 2014, the album recording was released on Yellow Sound Label.