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NEHARO’T NEHARO’T, 2007, for solo viola, accordion, percussion, 2 strings orchestras and magnetic tape

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Commissioned by the 92nd St. Y, New York, USA, 2007
Publisher: Israel Music Institute, 2007, IMI 7783 | Duration: 14 min.

Israel was in the middle of a fierce and violent war with the militias of the Lebanese Hezbollah, when Betty Olivero started working on an assignment project for the New-York based podium 92 Y in July 2006. Deeply touched and marked by the shocking television images of victims, corpses and mourning people on both side of the border, she chose elegies by mothers, widows and sisters who had lost their loved ones as a point of reference for her composition.

The title of the composition Neharo’t Neharo’t, means ‘Rivers Rivers’ in Hebrew, and refers to the rivers and floods of tears which are too often shed by mourning women in disastrous situations. On the other hand, the title contains also an element of hope: the root of the Hebrew word ‘nahar’ (river) resembles the word ‘nehara’, meaning ‘ray of light’.

Betty Olivero taped women in mourning, as well as elegies and love songs performed by dedicated professional Israeli singers (Lea Avraham and Ilana Elia), all living in Mediterranean countries. The material was then edited and adapted to a sequence of vocal and instrumental tape soundings, which are heard in the piece at set times, as an addition to the live playing of the soloist and the string orchestra. The role play between the viola’s solo part and the strings (assisted by an accordionist and a percussionist) represents the relationship between the individual and the group to which he belongs to.

With its multitude of voices, the orchestra serves as a symbol for the group. Thus, every once in a while, one instrument detaches itself from the orchestra for a short time in order to portray its own sound, just like the soloist. The orchestral sound is further influenced by discrete references to Monteverdi’s Lamento’s, taken from the Madrigali Guerrieri e Amorosi on the one hand, and from the opera L’Orfeo on the other hand, the later deals with a man mourning the loss of his wife.

By bringing this dialogue between musical styles, stemming from the past and the present, Betty Olivero emphasizes and accentuates the universal character of the mourning elegies. Neharo’t Neharo’t is a dedication to all those women and children living in areas of war.


Listen to Kim Kashkashian interviewed by Robert Siegel about Olivero's piece Neharo't Neharo't on NPR Music >> >>

A relevance of violas in Miami Beach / Laurence Vittes >>

Betty Olivero: Neharo't Neharo't, ECM Records >>

Betty Olivero: Neharo't Neharo't Proms BBC >>

Betty Olivero, Neharo't Neharo't. Between Sound and space: ECM Records >> >>

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