“Ayin Shel Ayin,” a composition by CC Assistant Professor of Music Technology Iddo Aharony, is the winner of Playground Ensemble’s annual competition. Playground Ensemble is Colorado's most prominent contemporary classical music ensemble, and the award includes performances of the piece at concerts in Denver this spring and a commission of a new work to be performed as part of the ensemble’s 2019-20 season.
“Ayin Shel Ayin,” which translates from Hebrew as “eye of nothingness,” was composed for an ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion) with electronics, says Aharony. “It is written for six musicians performing within a very specific space — that of a human voice,” he says. “The electronics heard in the piece explore a variety of sonic territories, yet are all processed from a single source: the voice of Canadian musician Kati Gleiser speaking, singing, whispering, breathing. The instruments are surrounded by that unique and powerful processed voice in performance, and are asked to rise out of and disappear back into that open mouth, wandering its paths while dialoging with its intricacies and contradictions.”
Aharony notes that the two repeated “ayin” in the title of the piece are spelled differently in Hebrew, yet sound the same in modern pronunciation. “This phrase, therefore, conveys a sonic symmetry juxtaposed with the words’ potential tension of meaning. This duality within this tiny fragment of text sparked the initial inspiration for the piece, along with the poem from which this fragment is excerpted,” he says.
That poem, “Oto Dibur Memit” by Israeli poet Almog Behar, is dedicated to Jewish German-language poet Paul Celan. Says Aharony, “the specific lines heard in the composition hint at Celan’s moment of death, drowning in Paris’ Seine River while ‘an eye-of-nothingness opened above a noise of a moment.’ As someone continuously inspired by Celan’s heart-stirring poetry of broken words, these lines moved me deeply. Yet this text fragment also seemed to suggest a rich field of possible meanings beyond any concrete moment and place, not to mention potential sonic echoes and reflected flares, which this piece is an attempt to barely scratch the surface of.”
Four-time Grammy-winning new music ensemble Eighth Blackbird premiered “Ayin Shel Ayin,” which Aharony then revised heavily for its Colorado premiere by the Playground Ensemble, scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 13 in the Concert Hall at the King Center, Auraria Campus, in Denver.
Aharony joined Colorado College’s Department of Music in 2017. He teaches courses in digital music production, songwriting, experimental music, multidisciplinary performance, environment and sound, and other topics. His music explores unconventional dialogues between different and often conflicting voices, with his electroacoustic work aimed at creating new ways for performers to engage in a fluid real-time interplay with their computer-spawned counterparts.