The May 10, 2009 performance at Carnegie Hall marked the work’s World Premiere.
Vayomer Shlomo (And Solomon Said) is a large, one-movement
work about the wise King Solomon. The piece asks: What is the nature of wisdom,
especially wisdom that is a gift from the Divine? I set excerpts of three works,
two of which—Song of Songs and Kohelet
(Ecclesiastes)—are examples of the wide body of written work that is
attributed to King Solomon. The third is a setting of Solomon’s request to God,
from Kings, for the wisdom to lead his people. When considered as
reflections of divinely given wisdom, the rapturous joy of Song of
Songs and the brooding introspection of Kohelet can be seen not as
opposites, but kindred aspects of the whole that is true wisdom. Solomon, at the
end of a long and prosperous life, ultimately led his kingdom into idleness and
gluttony; perhaps the message of the story is that people are not meant to have
such complete wisdom—rather, as in Gan Eden, there is a level of knowledge that
we should accept having not in its pure form, but only reflected in the world
around us. If so, then whether or not Song of Songs and
Kohelet were authored by Solomon is irrelevant, as they are certainly
part of the broader tale of Solomon—a tale of human interaction with the
struggle to be as close to wisdom and divinity as possible, while still being
humbly content within the constraints of our existence. In that spirit, I hope
that Vayomer Shlomo, as a distinct and separate statement, can also be
considered part of the story.
Composer Judd Greenstein was born and raised in the Greenwich Village
neighborhood of New York City, where he began his compositional life by writing
hip-hop beats as a teenager. Now a resident of Brooklyn, Judd is a passionate
advocate for the indie classical community in New York as a co-director of New
Amsterdam Records and as the Managing Director of NOW Ensemble. His music can be
frequently heard in New York’s concert halls, clubs, galleries, and as beyond.
He was recently heard at Bumbershoot, the Festival Internacional de Chihuahua,
and the Bang on a Can Summer Festival Marathon.
Bio current as of May 2009