Ben—Amots Ensemble debuts in Prague

Ofer Ben-Amots is co-chair and professor of composition and theory for the Colorado College Music Department.
Ofer Ben-Amots is co-chair and professor of composition and theory for the Colorado College Music Department.

The music of Colorado College Music Department co-chair Ofer Ben-Amots is the inspiration for a new vocal ensemble from Prague.

The Ben—Amots Ensemble is a nine-person chamber choir whose repertoire primarily comprises its namesake's music, as well as works by other composers. The ensemble presents its first concert on Sunday, March 26, in Prague's Rudolfinum, which begins the group's month-long tour in venues across the Czech Republic, culminating in a performance on Holocaust Remembrance Day in April.

The title and theme of the concert, "Srdce a Fontána," is a translation of Ben-Amots' choral work "The Heart and the Fountain" from his opera The Dybbuk. The ensemble will sing fragments of "The Heart and the Fountain" in between the seven main pieces on the program, which represent the seven branches of the menorah.

The concert theme was also inspired by a poem written by Ukrainian-Jewish poet Hayim Nahman Bialik, which "tells a metaphysical story about the functioning of the world based on the principle of time," according to the concert program notes. Ben-Amots did consult with the ensemble about the concert, and earlier this year he wrote a canon based on words from the prophet Nahum, "Behold the footsteps on the hills," as the final piece to be performed on the program.

Ultimately, the concert aims to "provide space for reflection and finding distance from the accelerated society and realizing the values ​​of life, of which the most important one we have is time," the program notes explain. "The concert also celebrates the beauty of Jewish culture, which has gone through more than one difficult test throughout human history."

The Ben—Amots Ensemble was founded by one of its members, Kateřina Dvorská, as an offshoot of her B.A. thesis — an analysis of Ben-Amots' choral music — at Charles University.

Ben-Amots is professor of composition and theory at CC. His list of composition credits is extensive and includes arrangements and original works known for interweaving folk elements with contemporary textures, which create "the haunting dynamic tension that permeates and defines his musical language."


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