Listen: D'vorah

"Song of D'vorah," D'vorah

"Arise, Awaken," D'vorah

"And the Children," D'vorah

"Hear the Word of the Lord," D'vorah

"Surely I Will Deliver You," D'vorah

"Down to the Gates," D'vorah

"Come Now, My Lord," D'vorah

"Mama's Gonna Cry," D'vorah

Excerpts from the archival recording of the world premiere, performed by the Haifa Symphony Orchestra, Oslo Gospel Choir, soloists Elizabeth Norman, Maysa Leak, Hillary Crute-Johnson, Gregory Hopkins, and Frank Mitchell, under the direction of John Nelson.

D’vorah audio courtesy of the Haifa Symphony Orchestra.

For information on performing this work or obtaining a perusal score, please contact SDG.



Music commentator Klaus George Roy describes Paul Schoenfield as a composer whose “grasp of music history joins hands with popular and folk traditions of America and beyond. This is cross-over art achieved with seamless craftsmanship.”

Schoenfield's music is inspired by a broad range of musical experience: popular styles from both American and foreign cultures, folk traditions, and historical traditions with some sly twists. He has received commissions and grants from the NEA, the Ohio Arts Commission, Chamber Music America, the Rockefeller Fund, the Minnesota Commissioning Club, American Composers Forum, Soli Deo Gloria of Chicago, The Juilliard School—for its centennial—and many other organizations and individuals.

Schoenfield's compositions have been performed by leading orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout the world. He is currently a Professor of Composition at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance.


"...I don't hesitate in saying he's a genuinely great composer. Year in, year out as a critic, you hear all sorts of new music—much of it composed with superb technique but with pitifully few arresting areas. Schoenfield is a composer with fascinating ideas and with soul. You know instantly his music wells up from springs deep inside him."—Miami Herald

For a complete biography, visit Paul Schoenfield’s website.


Paul Schoenfield

Mixed chorus ( SATB ), 5 vocal soloists & orchestra
DURATION: 50 minutes
TEXT: Old Testament story of Deborah, Judge and Prophetess of Israel (Judges 4-5)
Oratorio infused with jazz, gospel, rock, blues, and classical elements.




World Premiere
March 1998
Haifa Symphony Orchestra
Oslo Gospel Choir
Elizabeth Norman, soprano
Maysa Leak, mezzo-soprano
Hillary Crute-Johnson, mezzo-soprano
(Ernest Saunders, countertenor)
Gregory Hopkins, tenor
Frank Mitchell, bass-baritone
John Nelson, conductor
Maggie Stearns, librettist
Haifa Auditorium
Haifa, Israel

U.S. Premiere:
April 1998
National Symphony Orchestra
Morgan State University Choir
Kennedy Center
Washington D.C.

Paul Schoenfield studying the D'vorah score  

In 1998 Soli Deo Gloria celebrated the world premiere of its first commissioned piece. The work was written by American composer Paul Schoenfield, a noted artist and recipient of numerous awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, and the Rockefeller Foundation

The subject matter of the oratorio is the story of Deborah, judge and prophetess of Israel, as recorded in the Old Testament Book of Judges. The libretto, written by Maggie Stearns, was taken from the forth and fifth chapters of the book. Bearing as its title the Hebrew name D’vorah, the piece is a 50-minute oratorio infused with jazz, gospel, rock, blues, and classical elements scored for orchestra, chorus, and vocal soloists.




  Haifa Symphony Orchestra rehearsing for world premiere of D'vorah

The world premiere of D’vorah took place in Haifa, Israel, with the Haifa Symphony Orchestra, the Oslo Gospel Choir, and soloists Elizabeth Norman, Maysa Leak, Hillary Crute-Johnson, Gregory Hopkins, and Frank Mitchell. The work was welcomed by enthusiastic audiences in each of its five sold out performances. On the night of the fifth and final performance, the last notes of the work were followed by the prolonged applause of the Israeli audience demanding two encores, in which they joined in spontaneous rhythmic clapping.

Reflecting on the experience, Soli Deo Gloria's Artistic Director John Nelson later commented:

"The privilege of going to Israel to do a piece written by an Israeli-American composer, based on the African-American worship style played by an Israeli orchestra, sung by the Oslo Gospel Choir, and five African American soloists—that says it all. The sense of community that was expressed by this performance was awesome!"


U.S. premiere of D'vorah at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.  

Later that same year, D’vorah received its U.S. premiere with the National Symphony Orchestra and the Morgan State University Choir, again under the direction of John Nelson. This American performance took place in the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The piece was presented by the symphony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel.