Symphony: This Will Be Our Reply

Composed by Lucas Richman
Words by Traditional, Lucas Richman
Length: 32:00
Instrumentation: Chorus, 3332-4331, timp+4, hp, str
Ensemble: Chorus
LISTEN:  Full Audio


Oak Ridge Symphony
Dan Alcott, Conductor
Premiere Performance 3/30/19

“It was one of the most exquisite pieces of music I have ever heard.”
~Harold Duckett,
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In celebration of the Leonard Bernstein Centenary (August 25, 2018), Lucas Richman received permission from the Leonard Bernstein Office to create a new work for chorus and orchestra inspired by the speech Maestro Bernstein delivered to the United Jewish Fund two days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Known as “An Artist’s Response to Violence,” the speech addresses the manner in which  musicians might best use their abilities in the aftermath of tragedy:

“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”  *
~Leonard Bernstein

The three movements of Richman’s “Symphony: This Will Be Our Reply” (Intensity/Beauty/Devotion) expand upon these three directives, exploring the contrasts of great beauty and horrific violence that pervade our modern era. In the process of musically capturing the daily struggle to rise above the steady onslaught of incomprehensible savagery, certain motives can be traced throughout the work as they evolve from a place of benign passivity to orders of an imperative nature. Throughout the work, there are subtle nods to the legacy of Bernstein, including the use of the Hebrew language in the final movement.

The first movement, Intensity, embraces the notion of making “music more intensely” in that it pits the principal string octet, as a smaller community unit, against the dangers and distractions of the outside world, represented by the remainder of the orchestral forces. After a short introduction which introduces the “Tikkun Olam” motive in ominous form, the string orchestra first plays as a cohesive force that soon abandons the smaller group, leaving it to continue manifesting a traditional form of sonata-form style of chamber music while enduring a bombardment of interjections, ranging from random gun-fire bursts to mocking reflections of the octet’s musical gestures. Ultimately, with intensity of purpose, the octet breaks through with its own message of truth, reuniting with the larger community of string players.

The practice of defining beauty is a purely subjective affair and is, as such, truly mystifying. The second movement, Beauty, finds symmetries occurring in nature interwoven with a select palette of musical motives and a full range of orchestral colors. The result is an aural fabric with which the composer does not endeavor to depict one specific view of beauty but, rather, open the field for multiple interpretations. The repeated single-note motive introduced early in the movement is derived from a phrase found in the third movement at which point the chorus intones, “L’ma-an ha shalom (for the sake of peace).”

The third movement, Devotion, begins from a place of awe and genuflection with the chorus singing “Va’anachnu,” a devotional prayer heard during the Jewish High Holy Days. After the chorus makes a strong appeal to a higher power for enlightenment in the fact of tragedy, the work concludes with an anthemic setting of an original poem (“Tikkun Olam – Heal the World”) which uplifts the essence of Bernstein’s profound message.

Symphony: This Will Be Our Reply was commissioned by the Oak Ridge Civic Music Association (world premiere March 30, 2019; Dan Alcott, conductor), Bemidji Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony.

Instrumentation: SATB chorus, 3 flutes, 2 oboes, English Horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp and strings.

*Used by permission of The Leonard Bernstein Office, Inc.




Va’anachnu text from the Jewish Liturgy
Tikkun Olam text by Lucas Richman

Va’anachnu kor’im,                                          BUT WE BEND OUR KNEES
Umishtachavim umodim                                 AND BOW DOWN AND EXPRESS THANKS
Lif’nei Melech,                                                 BEFORE THE KING,
Malchei ha’m’lachim,                                       KING OF KINGS
Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu.                                     THE HOLY ONE, BLESSED BE HE.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Azor lanu lehavin                                              HELP US TO UNDERSTAND
Ma nuchal la’asot neged alimut.                      WHAT WE CAN DO IN THE FACE OF VIOLENCE.
Ma nuchal la’asot?                                            WHAT CAN WE DO?

L’ma-an bateinu                                                FOR THE SAKE OF OUR HOMES
L’ma-an chavereinu                                           FOR THE SAKE OF OUR FRIENDS
L’ma-an kadur ha-aretz                                     FOR THE SAKE OF OUR EARTH
Tikkun Olam                                                       HEAL THE WORLD

L’ma-an kehiloteinu                                           FOR THE SAKE OF OUR COMMUNITIES
L’ma-an medinoteinu                                         FOR THE SAKE OF OUR COUNTRIES
L’ma-an kadur ha-aretz                                      FOR THE SAKE OF OUR EARTH
Tikkun Olam                                                       HEAL THE WORLD

Aleinu l’takken et ha-olam                                WE MUST REPAIR THE WORLD
L’ma-an imoteinu                                              FOR THE SAKE OF OUR MOTHERS
L’ma-an avoteinu                                               FOR THE SAKE OF OUR FATHERS
Tikkun Olam                                                       HEAL THE WORLD

L’ma-an b’noteinu                                              FOR THE SAKE OF OUR DAUGHTERS
L’ma-an baneinu                                                FOR THE SAKE OF OUR SONS
Aleinu l’takken et ha-olam                                 WE MUST REPAIR THE WORLD

L’ma-an sichlenu                                                FOR THE SAKE OF OUR KNOWLEDGE
L’ma-an simchateinu                                          FOR THE SAKE OF OUR JOY
L’ma-an ha’ahava                                               FOR THE SAKE OF LOVE
Tikkun Olam                                                       HEAL THE WORLD

L’ma-an hashalom                                             FOR THE SAKE OF PEACE
Tikkun Olam                                                      HEAL THE WORLD

L’ma-an nishmoteinu                                        FOR THE SAKE OF OUR SOULS
L’ma-an hemshech kiyumenu                           FOR THE SAKE OF OUR FUTURE
Aleinu l’takken et ha-olam                                WE MUST REPAIR THE WORLD
Tikkun Olam                                                      HEAL THE WORLD


© LeDor Publishing 2018

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