Wernick: A Prayer for Jerusalem / Mays: Six Invocations to the Svara Mandala
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCRL344     Release Date: 2010-12-15
Jan DeGaetani, mezzo-soprano; Glen Steele, percussion; Wichita State University Percussion Orchestra J.C. Combs, conductor

Notes by Richard Wernick:

The Prayer for Jerusalem was composed in the fall and winter of 1970-71. It was written for and is dedicated to Jan DeGaetani.

The work is, indeed a prayer — for the survival, prosperity, and unity of Jerusalem and all that it represents and symbolizes. Above all it is a prayer for peace, for an end to the insanity that has prevailed for so long in the Middle East. The fragments of the 122nd Psalm which comprise the text dwell on the concept of peace, and are as relevant today as they were in the time of King David.

The musical fulcrum of the work is a whole tone scale, which in the last moment of the work is seen in its "real" guise: the opening fragment of Bach's chorale Es ist genug. The last two words of the Hebrew text being "shalom bach," the opportunity to construct a musical pun (on the very highest level) was irresistible. Therefore the quote from Bach. I of course chose the particular chorale not only because of its melodic construction and harmonic content, but also because its own words, "it is enough" compliment the emotions of the original psalm, and for me heighten them and bring them even more up to date. Jerusalem has been divided, fought over, and the scene of religious and political controversy for centuries; Jerusalem should represent the best in us, not the worst, and it is time to put an end to the madness. "It is enough."

Notes by Walter Mays;

Six Invocations to the Svara Mandala was commissioned by J.C. Combs and the Wichita State University Percussion Orchestra in 1973. It was my intention to write a full length composition of symphonic scope that could serve as the principal serious work for a percussion concert. The score calls for 10 percussionists covering 65 instruments plus 3 additional players for celesta, piano and electric bass guitar. Some of the more unusual instruments are chromatic toy piano, slide whistle, steel pipes, automobile brake drums, tuned glasses, musical saw, and a bass marimba box (a large thumb piano from Jamaica). One percussionist works inside the piano using gong beaters, xylophone mallets, pencils, pick, and a wooden rolling pin...

The name "Svara Mandala" refers to a rare kind of harp used in Indian classical music. Metal strings are strung across a horizontal resonator box and plucked with plectrum or fingers. It is usually played to the accompaniment of tablas. The gypsy cimbalom of Europe is probably a derivative of the Svara Mandala. In Six Invocations the Svara Mandala is addressed as a deity, each invocation emphasizing a different sound producing medium. The fourth invocation for bowed vibraphone, piano strings, and drums is directly influenced by the sound of the Svara Mandala.



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Various Artists

Wernick: A Prayer for Jerusalem / Mays: Six Invocations to the Svara Mandala

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Track Listing

A Prayer for Jerusalem: I. -
Richard Wernick
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A Prayer for Jerusalem: II. -
Richard Wernick
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A Prayer for Jerusalem: III. -
Richard Wernick
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A Prayer for Jerusalem: IV. -
Richard Wernick
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A Prayer for Jerusalem: V. -
Richard Wernick
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Six Invocations to the Svara Mandala: I. Brass and Steel
Walter Mays
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Six Invocations to the Svara Mandala: II. Bowed Bronze
Walter Mays
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Six Invocations to the Svara Mandala: III. Bowed Glass
Walter Mays
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Six Invocations to the Svara Mandala: IV. Bowed Aluminum
Walter Mays
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Six Invocations to the Svara Mandala: V. Wood and Membranes
Walter Mays
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Six Invocations to the Svara Mandala: VI: Apotheosis
Walter Mays
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