The Concert: The New York premiere of Lainie Fefferman’s Princeton dissertation piece, “Here I Am,” a rock oratorio in nine movements, for the Newspeak ensemble and Va Vocals.
Date and Location: May 1 at 8 p.m. at Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Composer: Lainie Fefferman, a Ph.D. candidate in music composition at Princeton, is a Brooklyn-based composer. She has created pieces for numerous New York ensembles and singing groups and is the founder and co-director of Exapno, a New Music Community Center in downtown Brooklyn. For “Here I Am,” Fefferman worked with Newspeak, an ensemble that became an early standout within New York’s “indie-classical” scene, and the sopranos of Va Vocals: Martha Cluver, Mellissa Hughes, and Caroline Shaw GS, who won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for music.
The Work: Fefferman calls this piece “a staged singing out of biblical stories.” Written for three singers, clarinet, violin, cello, electric guitar, piano, percussion, and drum set, this “rock oratorio” is a meditation on nine perplexing and often ignored portions of the Hebrew Bible, including the laws expounded in the Book of Leviticus; Lot’s offering of his virgin daughters to the people of Sodom; Abraham’s haggling with the divine over how many innocent men are needed to save Sodom; and Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his own son to show his devotion.