Judith Shatin

About this work:

Ruah is a Hebrew word that translates as air, wind, or breath. In Cabalistic mysticism it also refers to the part of the soul that mediates between the body and the spirit. Both the colloquial and spiritual meanings are at work here. The images of breath and air inform the timbral stretching of the flute's sound, with the flutist using the voice and its breath flow in conjunction with played tones. The image of the wind is captured particularly in the swirling lines of the first movement, marked Soaring, and in the third, titled Impassioned. The second movement, Tender emerges from a dynamic stillness, with far-flung registral limits, and large internal spaces. Its three-part organization mirrors the larger-scale three movement plan of the entire work. The final movement is a more furious spin through space, and reflects a more tightly wound, assertive character than the first two movements. However, it also refers to the preceding movements. The spiritual reference is embodied in the role of the flute as it variously springs forth from and mediates between the instruments of the ensemble. Ruah was composed for and is dedicated to Reneé Siebert, who premiered and the recorded it with the Prism Chamber Orchestra in March, 1987. Its composition was made possible in part by an NEA Composer Fellowship and by a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. The second movement was choreographed by Kate Johnson of the Paul Taylor Dance Company and presented at New York's City Center in May, 1989. The flute and piano version, also composed at the VCCA, was premiered by Reneé and Cynthia Siebert at the 1994 National Flute Association meeting in Kansas City, Mo. Reviews have been glowing. The Washington Post said: “Judith Shatin…shows a rich and disciplined imagination in her … “Ruah” (“Air, Wind or Breath”) for flute and orchestra. In Hebrew, as in many other languages, the word for “breath” is also the word for “spirit” (which is the Latin word for “breath), and “Ruah” is, in fact, a multifaceted essy on the human spirit, its windlike freedom of movement and volatile changes of mood, summarized in the titles of the three movements: “Soaring,“ “Serene,” and “Impassioned.” It is beautifully performed and recorded…by flutist Renee Siebert, for whom it was composed, with Robert Black conducting the Prism Orchestra.”

Version: flute concerto
Year composed: 1985
Duration: 00:23:00
Ensemble type: Orchestra:Chamber Orchestra with Soloist(s)
Instrumentation: ,1 Flute soloist(s), 1 Oboe, 1 Clarinet, 1 Bassoon, 1 Horn in F, 1 Trumpet, 1 Trombone, 1 Strings (General)
Instrumentation notes: fl, ch orch: 0111 1110 str

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