"Two Faiths-One Spirit" a Review
Transported by the music, the audience of Thursday’s concert at St. Jerome Church explored the preservation of cultural histories through the tragedies and perseverance that surround warfare and persecution. Conductor Avner Dorman, CityMusic Cleveland and the selected composers gave us an opportunity to suffer with, pray with and celebrate with life stories surrounding the Sarajevo Haggadah (one of the oldest illustrated manuscripts of the Jewish text used during Passover Seder) and the Timbuktu Manuscripts (collected documents from the Golden Age of Mali). Highlights of the evening included the guest performance of composer and accordionist Merima Kljuèo (b. 1973) and specialty Moroccan instrumentation for Tom Cohen’s (b. 1983) Warzazat. Every moment of this concert invited the audience to counter such adversities through upholding commonalities over differences.
From the program notes by Dr. Richard Rodda: “A powerful and enduring force for good, on the other hand, is the striving to live by the tenets that unite the great religions rather than exploiting their differences to promote disharmony.”
The music gave us an opportunity to do just that.
A world renowned virtuoso and composer, Merima Kljuèo breaks so many boundaries in her performance on the accordion that the instrument might not even be identifiable to first-time listeners. Her virtuosic playing stems from a deeply rooted response to the story of her composition, visible in her expression as she plays and audible in the experimental techniques she uses to portray the emotions of the heart. Swaying passionately in her seat as she smacked the keys, evoking sounds of gunshots and war, and furrowing her brow in a tenuous suspense, eliciting the ominous threat and penetrating fear as she droned with the bass and layered in chilling trebles. The added beauty of her orchestration augmented the accordion greatly, creating a greater disparity between the depths of the thundering timpani and the shrills of violin harmonics.
Glowing with admiration as I was, meeting Merima afterward set me beaming. This tremendously esteemed musician humbly initiated a hug! It’s precious to experience music as it takes us in full circles from human interaction which inspires art, back to human interaction which receives art and resonates with the inspiration. The humility of the musicians of CityMusic Cleveland, who bring such refinement into our community freely shared, demonstrates beautifully the sentiment stated above: to promote unity and harmony by recognizing the things we all share, and to share openly with all.
Thank you CityMusic, Merima Kljuèo, and all the staff at St. Jerome Church who made this experience possible.
Julia Wallace, Music Director St. Jerome Church & Lawrence Wallace, Music Director, St. Luke Church