April 10, 2013 (U.S. Premiere)
University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music (CCM) Chamber Choir, Marie Bucoy-Calavan, conductor
Cohen Family Studio Theater, Cincinnati, OH
Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Yehudi Wyner has created a diverse body of over 60 works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, solo performers, theater music, and liturgical services. In addition to composing and teaching, his active and eclectic musical career includes work as a performer, director of two opera companies, and conductor of numerous ensembles in a wide range of repertory. "A comprehensive musician, Mr. Wyner is an elegant pianist, a fine conductor, a prolific composer, and a revered teacher. His works show a deep understanding of what sounds good and is technically efficient." (Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, 2009). His wife, Susan Davenny Wyner, has been an enormous source of inspiration, and a number of Wyner’s most strikingly beautiful compositions were created specifically for her.
For a complete biography, visit Yehudi Wyner's website.
The Lord is Close to the Heartbroken
Mixed chorus (SATB), harp & percussion
DURATION: 5 minutes
TEXT: extracts from Psalms 34, 68
Celebratory work that is both solemn and vivacious. Psalms Project commission
January 1, 2012
American Cathedral in Paris Choir
Zachary Ullery, director
The premiere of Puliitzer Prize-winning composer Yehudi Wyner’s choral work The Lord is Close to the Heartbroken took place at the American Cathedral in Paris, as part of the church’s Sunday morning Eucharist. The church choir, accompanied by harp and percussion (2 tom toms, 1 bass drum, 1 suspended cymbal, 1 claves, 1 crotale), was conducted by Zachary Ullery, Director of Music at the Cathedral.
Preceding the Eucharist service, Yehudi Wyner, along with SDG’s Artistic Director, John Nelson; theologian Anne Marie Reijnen of the Institut Catholique, a great advocate of interfaith conversation and particularly Christian-Jewish relations; and SDG’s Psalms Project Director, Peter Bannister offered an open forum. The hour-long dialogue touched on the January celebration of the lives of Martin Luther King, Jr., and his comrade-in-arms during the civil rights movement, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (whose Yiddish poetry was set to music by Yehudi's father, Lazar Weiner); the Psalm text that refers to "girls playing on tambourines" and the scholarly work of Elaine Pagels on the leading role of women in the early Church; and Wyner's choice of these Psalms. Click to read excerpts from this forum, transcribed by Peter Bannister.
In a pre-concert interview, Mr. Wyner offered this statement about what he hoped listeners would take away from the performance of The Lord is Close to the Heartbroken:
“I think there is an overall spiritual essence to life itself. One of the great Jewish philosophers said that life itself is, by definition, holy. Life is holy. I believe that. My life is devoted to trying to add something to the world, trying to help people, trying—although it can be difficult sometimes—to love. To love 'the things of this world,' to love my colleagues, the work I do, my family, my children, my grandchildren, and of course, my wife. And, if there were a cat in the house, the cat. When people hear this Psalm, I want them to get a sense of celebration, of thoughtfulness, a sense of the all-encompassing feeling of a holy, spiritual, aspiring hopefulness.”—Yehudi Wyner
The Lord is Close to the Heartbroken by Yehudi Wyner
Come, my children, listen to me:
Who among you delights in life,
And longs for time to enjoy all good things?
Then turn from evil and do good;
Seek and pursue peace.
The Lord is close to the heartbroken,
The Lord is close, helping those whose spirit is crushed.
God watches over their bones;
Not a one shall be broken.
O God, Thy procession comes into view
First the singers, next come minstrels,
Among them, girls playing on tambourines.
All you kingdoms of the world, sing praises,
Sing praises to the Lord, to Him who rides the heavens, the ancient heavens.
—based on Psalm 34 and Psalm 68