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Work of the Week – Stefan Heucke: Baruch ata Adonaj

On 27 October the opening of the new Anneliese Brost Musikforum Ruhr concert hall in Bochum, Germany, will be celebrated with an inaugural concert featuring the world premiere of Stefan Heucke’s cantata Baruch ata Adonaj. Commissioned by Bochumer Symphoniker, the new 30 minute work for solo baritone, three treble voices, choir and orchestra will be performed by Bochumer Symphoniker, ChorWerk Ruhr and Philharmonische Chor Bochum under the baton of Steven Sloane. The baritone part will be sung by Martijn Cornet and the three treble parts will be performed by members of the Chorakademie Dortmund.

Baruch ata Adonaj by Stefan Heucke – Space and sound rearranged

Heuke’s intended staging of Baruch ata Adonaj aims to showcase the new hall’s excellent acoustics. Beginning with an empty stage, the solo baritone and trebles sing the cantata’s opening rhapsodic melody in call and response from opposing balconies to form the basis of eight sequential variations. The eight movements alternate between instrumental and vocal settings of the central melody as Heucke gradually develops delicate chamber music-like textures into the full sound capabilities of the combined large ensembles. As the empty stage gradually fills with musicians the concert hall is progressively filled with sound.

For the inauguration of the new Musikforum, Bochum Symphony commissioned from me a work to celebrate the completion of the long term project as well as a blessing for its future. In it, more and more singers and instrumentalists enter the stage, leading to a radiant culminating Amen, at which point the whole room is inhabited and inaugurated with music. – Stefan Heucke

The text ‘Baruch ata Adonaj’ is a Hebrew blessing that holds an important place in Jewish tradition. Whilst it is customarily used to give thanks for food or wine, it can also be used to remark on exceptional occasions, such as the opening of the Anneliese Brost Musikforum Ruhr promises to be. The Musikforum will also become the first permanent venue of the Bochumer Symphoniker.

A second performance of Heucke’s Baruch ata Adonaj will take place on 28 October and on 29/30 October, Bochumer Symphoniker will present a program including Igor Stravinsky’s ever popular Firebird Suite.