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Work of the Week – Chaya Czernowin: Atara

The Corona pandemic has presented great challenges to humankind and created a sense of powerlessness. Chaya Czernowin expressed her impressions of this in her new work Atara, a lament for orchestra and two amplified voices. The ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra will perform the world premiere on 9 November 2021 at the Wien Modern Festival with Christian Karlsen and soloists Sofia Jernebrg, soprano and Holger Falk, baritone. 

Poet Zohar Eitan as inspiration for Atara by Chaya Czernowin

When Czernowin began working on Atara in early 2020, she had no idea that the world would come to a standstill shortly after. The work was originally intended to be a lament about the human compulsion to control the environment and nature. However, due to the Corona crisis, it has turned into a play that reflects the atmosphere of the lockdown and the loss of control during a pandemic. The Israeli composer was inspired by a poem that was written by her friend Zohar Eitan, which provides the text for Atara (Hebrew for: Crown).

In Atara, the orchestra moves slowly and forcefully in huge independent blocks. Opposing this, the singers and their chamber instrumental formation are fragile, lost in the huge spaces suddenly opened up by the orchestra. Chaya Czernowin

The German premiere of Atara will take place at the “viva musica” event series with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich during the 2022/23 season.

photo: Christopher McIntosh