Ofer Ben-Amots

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Ofer Ben-Amots
Ofer81.gif
Background information
Native name עופר בן-אמוץ
Born (1955-10-20) October 20, 1955 (age 59)
Haifa, Israel
Occupation(s) Composer
Instruments Piano
Website www.oferbenamots.com

Ofer Ben-Amots (Hebrew: עופר בן-אמוץ; born October 20, 1955) is an Israeli-American composer and teacher of music composition and theory at Colorado College. His music is inspired by Jewish folklore of Eastern-European Yiddish and Judeo-Spanish Ladino traditions. The interweaving of folk elements with contemporary textures creates the dynamic tension that permeates and defines Ben-Amots’ musical language.[1]

Biography[edit]

Born in Haifa, Israel, Ofer Ben-Amots gave his first piano concert at age nine and at age sixteen was awarded first prize in the Chet Piano Competition. Later, following composition studies with Joseph Dorfman at Tel Aviv University, he was invited to study at the Conservatoire de Musique in Geneva, Switzerland. There he studied with Pierre Wismer and privately with Alberto Ginastera. Ben-Amots is an alumnus of the Hochschule für Musik in Detmold, Germany, where he studied with Martin C. Redel and Dietrich Manicke and graduated with degrees in composition, music theory, and piano. Upon his arrival in the United States in 1987, Ben-Amots studied with George Crumb[2] at the University of Pennsylvania where he received his Ph.D. in music composition. Currently on the faculty of Colorado College, Ben-Amots is a Professor of music composition and theory.[3] In addition, Ben-Amots is a member of the Advisory Board and the Editorial Board of the Milken Archive of American-Jewish Music [4] and is a Jerusalem Fellow of the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity. In 1997, he became the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity's Artistic Director for North America.[5]

Ben-Amots' music has been published by Kallisti Music Press, Muramatsu Inc., Dorn, Tara Publications, and the Composer's Own Press. It can be heard on Naxos Records,[6] Vantage, Plæne, Stylton, and Music Sources recording labels.

Awards[edit]

Ofer Ben-Amots was the winner of the 1994 Vienna International Competition for Composers with his comic opera, Fool's Paradise (opera).[7] The chamber opera is based on a short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer. Though short, the story includes a rich scope of important life experiences such as childhood and adolescence, love, death, resurrection. Interestingly, Ben-Amots did not write the opera with a traditional adult audience in mind. Instead, he looked to inspire and excite children's imaginations.[8] To do so, he argues, one must use "clear simple language and allow for some mystery and magic".[9] To allow for such mystery and magic, Ben-Amots assigned one instrument or group of instruments to each of the seven characters in the opera. However, the instrumentation and story can be appreciated, admired, and enjoyed by adults as well. Because there is such a wide range of instruments used for this opera, a regular symphonic orchestra is not needed. Thus, it is up to the soloist to portray important feelings as well as demonstrate the ability of their instrument. Finally, the message of the story is simply that life is always better than death—that Paradise exists only on earth. Ben-Amots argues that this is an important lesson for both children and adults.[10] Fool's Paradise was premiered in Vienna and subsequently became part of the 1994/95 season of Opernhaus Zürich.[11]

Ben-Amots' Avis Urbanus for amplified flute was awarded First Prize at the 1991 Kobe International Competition for Flute Composition in Japan, and was then a required composition at the 1993 Kobe Flute Competition. In 1999, Ben-Amots was awarded the Aaron Copland Award and the Music Composition Artist Fellowship by the Colorado Council on the Arts. In 2004 he won the Festiladino,[12] an international contest for Judeo-Spanish songs, a part of the Israel Festival in Jerusalem.

Discography[edit]

  • Celestial Dialogues (2004)
  • Te Laudamus (2007)

Compositions[edit]

Stage music[edit]

  • Pierrot, ballet Suite for symphony orchestra. 1981 (50')
  • Story Number 2, for small orchestra and Narrator Text written by Eugène Ionesco.1983/88 (13')
  • Fool's Paradise (opera), opera buffa in five scenes. Based on a story by Isaac Bashevis Singer. 1993-94 (80')
  • The Dybbuk: Between Two Worlds, multimedia chamber opera in three acts. 2007 (90’)

Voice and orchestra[edit]

  • Shirat Israel, cantata for mezzo-soprano and orchestra. Hebrew text by Ch. N. Bialik. 1978 (12')
  • The Joyce Cycle, for middle voice and symphony orchestra Lyrics written by James Joyce. 1984-85 (25')
  • Celestial Dialogues, for voice, clarinet and string orchestra. 1994 (30’)
  • The Dybbuk Suite, for chamber symphony and a solo vocalist. 2002 (17’)
  • Songs from the Pomegranate Garden, a Judeo-Spanish cycle for chamber symphony and a mezzo-soprano. 2004/05 (22’)

Orchestra music[edit]

  • Fanfare, for symphony orchestra, Kavannagh Prize Awarded. 1988 (6')
  • Variations on a French Children’s Song, for symphony orchestra. 1992 (7’)
  • Mt. Fuji Ceremonial Fanfare, for symphonic band. 1996 (10’)
  • The Klezmer Concerto, for clarinet solo, string orchestra, harp and percussion. 2006 (25’)
  • Concertino - From Darkness to Light, for clarinet, mandolin, and orchestra. 2012 (24’)

Choir and instruments[edit]

  • Al Naharot Bavel (By the Rivers of Babylon), four part canon for mixed choir, Piano and Percussion Text Psalm 137. 1988 (4')
  • Psalm 81 (Upon Gitith), for mixed choir and Metal Percussion. Text: Psalm 81. 1989 (13')
  • Hashkivenu (Cause us, Oh God to Lie Down in Peace), for SATB Chorus, organ and mixed percussion. 1989/90 (8')
  • Three Love Songs, for Mixed Choir and Piano Accompaniment. 1991 (5')
  • Mizmor – Ten Degrees of Praise (Psalm 150), for soprano solo, clarinet, men’s choir, and percussion. 2003 (11’)
  • The Heart and the Fountain, for SATB Chorus or for Female chorus with misc. percussion. 2006 (8'30")
  • A Fool’s Journey, for 8-Part mixed chorus, piano and percussion Lyrics written by Süsskind von Trimberg (13th century) 1996, Rev. 2008 (12')

Choir a cappella[edit]

  • Hineh Al Heharim (Here on the Mountains), four to eight part canon for mixed choir a cappella. Text: Nachum 2, 1-3. 1987 (4'30")
  • Ma Tishtochachi Nafshi (Why So Downcast, My Soul), - for mixed chorus. Text: Psalm 42. 1987/88 (5'30")
  • Yeeheyu Le’ratzon (May the Words), for SATB Chorus. Text out of the Amidah prayer. 1989/90 (5')
  • Five Hassidic Songs, for SATB Chorus or Female chorus. Arrangements of traditional Hassidic songs with or without piano accompaniment. 1999/2000 (10')

Vocal chamber music[edit]

  • Shtetl Songs, for voice and piano (also a version for mixed chorus) 1985/86 (18')
  • Psalm 23, for Soprano, Clarinet and Percussion. 1990 (5')
  • Kinah (Lament), for piano and high-voice 1998 (8’)
  • Songs from the Pomegranate Garden, for voice and piano. Based on Judeo-Spanish songs. 2004 (20’)
  • Kantigas Ulvidadas (Judeo-Spanish), for voice and piano. 2006 (10’)
  • The Dybbuk Song Cycle, for voice and piano. Based on the opera. 2008 (25’)
  • The Sweet Pain of Love, for violin and voice, to a poem by Nathan Zach. 2008 (9’)

Instrumental chamber music[edit]

  • Ceremonial Music, for saxophone, trumpet and piano. 1982 (11')
  • Hashkivenu, for string quartet. 1982 (10')
  • Sonata, for cello and piano. 1982 (23')
  • Five Ancient Dances, for clarinet (or flute) and piano. 1983 (13')
  • Midnight Dance, for violin (or cello) and piano. 1996 (8')
  • Cantillations, for clarinet and cello (or viola) 1997 (10')
  • Prophetic Tropes, (Te'amey Nevu’ah,) for trombone (or bass trombone) and extended piano. 1989/99 (11')
  • Elemental Drums, Music for Dance. for mixed wind ensemble, 3 percussionists, and guitar. 1997 (12’)
  • The Queen City Fanfare, for trumpet and organ (version for solo trumpet and brass choir) 2002 (5’)
  • The Queen City Fanfare, (Inaugural Fanfare,) an additional version for oboe, piano, and percussion. 2002 (5’)
  • The Odessa Trio (in memory of J. Dorfman,) for violin, cello and piano. 2008-2014 (25’)
  • From Darkness to Light, A trio for clarinet (or guitar,) mandolin, and piano. 2013 (24’)

Piano and organ solo[edit]

  • Toccata 1978
  • Scherzo 1978
  • Etude in C 1984
  • Praeludium and Fuga in C 1984
  • Piano Pieces for Children 1983/89
  • Sonatina 1984
    – Praeludium
    – Midnight Dance
    – Mosquito
    – Tambourine
  • Haunted Toccata 1990
  • Untitled No. 1 1990
  • Akëda, 2000 (8’)
  • The Organ Book of Psalms, for organ solo 1998/2008
    – Mystical Procession 1999 (5')
    – Pastoral Invocation 1998 (7')
    – The Q Anthem 1999 (5')
    – Teru'ah (Recessional) 2008 (5')

Other solo instruments[edit]

  • Miniatures et Collage, for flute. 1977 (5’30”)
  • Avis Urbanus, for amplified flute. 1990 (10’)
  • I, Jerusalem ..., for any size clarinet solo. 1991 (4’)
  • A Letter to Avigdor, for violin solo. Commissioned by Avigdor Zamir. 1990/99 (10’)
  • The Angel's Lament, for clarinet solo. Commissioned by Guido Arbonelli. 1999 (60")
  • The Red Curtain Dance, for oboe or clarinet solo. 2003 (6’)

Orchestral arrangements[edit]

  • Armenian Suite, by Richard Yardumian. A reduction of the original score, for small symphonic orchestra. 1992
  • Massada, - Opera in three acts by Fredrick Kaufman. A piano reduction of the original score. 1990

References[edit]

  1. ^ McMurtery, John. "Extended Techniques for Flute: Polyphonic Techniques". "This example, from Ofer Ben-Amots’ Avis Urbanus, contains a unique use of singing and playing. The flutist sustains a single note, while singing the highest pitch possible for the voice and bending the pitch downward." 
  2. ^ Bruns, Steven; Ben-Amots, Ofer, eds. (2005). George Crumb and the Alchemy of Sound: Essays on His Music. Colorado College Music Press. p. 360. ISBN 978-0-935052-07-7. 
  3. ^ The Colorado College Music Faculty
  4. ^ The Milken Archive Editorial Board and Staff
  5. ^ CJCC Leadership
  6. ^ Biography on Naxos Records' site
  7. ^ About the opera Fool's Paradise
  8. ^ http://home.bway.net/hartung/foo.html
  9. ^ http://home.bway.net/hartung/foo.html
  10. ^ http://home.bway.net/hartung/foo.html
  11. ^ Hofmann, Paul (November 27, 1994). "WHAT'S DOING IN; Zurich". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-23. 
  12. ^ Festiladino 2004

External links[edit]