Psalms for challenging times


Lincoln Center, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir and the Tallis Scholars are in the midst of a 12-day collaboration of concerts after commissioning 150 composers to write choral settings of all 150 Psalms.

National Public Radio reports:

Lincoln Center’s director of programming, Jane Moss, says over the past few years, she’s been thinking a lot about the contentious political landscape in the United States and abroad, the turbulent changes in the environment. That led her to the psalms.

“Historically, what the psalms have been for are challenging times,” Moss says. “I mean, they are really explicitly designed to help you out when the going gets rough. And they include, which I find wonderful, all sorts of human complaints to God — about, like, where are you in these challenging times?”

The Psalms Experience began on November 2 and concludes on November 11.

Several Pulitzer Prize-winning composers were commissioned to write music for the psalms, including Caroline Shaw, who composed Psalm 84.

“I really identified with [Psalm 84] because it has to do with finding a home and finding a refuge and a place and sort of celebrating this sense of safety,” Shaw says. “But also there’s a yearning for a home that feels very relevant today.”

Shaw says she was thinking of Syria as she wrote it.

“The second verse is: ‘The sparrow found a house and the swallow her nest, where she may place her young,’ which is just a beautiful image of a bird trying to keep her children safe,” she says. “People trying to keep their family safe.”

Photo at top: The Tallis Scholars; credit Nick Rutter

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