Kol Galgal - (2017) - for orchestra
22.214.171.124 , 126.96.36.199, shofar, timpani + 3 perc, harp, piano, strings
NEC Philharmonia, 12.8.17, Jordan Hall.
Gavin Wright, shofar
Stuart Ryerse, piano
Matthew Szymanski, conductor
The text of Kol Galgal is found in the Zohar, the foundational writings of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. Often attributed to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in second-century ancient Israel, the Zohar was codified and first published in a combination of medieval Aramaic and Hebrew by Rabbi Moses de León in fourteenth-century Spain. The Zohar is a group of books that include commentaries on the Torah (the five books of Moses), and dialogues of the mystical and spiritual origin and nature of God, mythical cosmogony, and mystical psychology. It is understood that only those with high degrees of spiritual perception are permitted to study the Zohar, and that the Zohar is a guide of actions to discover deeper and elevated states of spiritual and metaphysical awareness. One of the most important elements of study of the Zohar is the understanding of the Sefirot, or ‘emanations.’ The Sefirot are ten attributes in which God reveals and manifests itself and continuously creates and maintains the physical, spiritual, and metaphysical realms. The Sefirot are the essence of our existence and our co-existence with God, or the Ein Sof, ‘the Infinite one.’ They are directly referenced in the text of Kol Galgal, which is as follows:
Kol Galgal hamitgalgel mimatah l’malah, merchovot stomot holchot u’mitgalg’lot. Kol n’imot oleh v’yored, holech u’m’shotet ba’olam.
Kol shofar nimshach b’omkei hamad’r’got, u’m’sovev hagalgal saviv.
The voice of the wheel rolls from low to high, as obstructed chariots wander and roll. The voices of melodies rise and fall as they wander and encircle the universe. The voice of the Shofar reverberates through the depths of the Sefirot, and they keep the wheel turning.
Kol Galgal expresses a physical, spiritual, and metaphysical universe in constant perpetual motion. It is a universe in which we all have the capability and headspace to be a part of and to be one with. The in-depth study of this text and other Kabbalistic texts have resonated greatly with me. Perhaps it is that I am named for Rabbi Isaac Luria, also known as ‘HaAri,’ the 16th century father of modern Kabbalah.
Kol Galgal received a BMI Student Composer Award in 2018.