instrumentation: solo mezzo, SATB chorus (188.8.131.52)
Like most Levantines, I grew up surrounded by vocal settings of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish’s work, such that when he passed away in 2008, I felt the need to express my mourning of his loss through music. I chose this poem (whose title translates to “A stranger in a faraway city”) to which I felt very close (as a near-eastern émigré to North America myself) as the basis of a piece for mezzo soprano and chamber chorus. The soloist sings in a style reminiscent of Lebanese and Palestinian folk singing, while the choir is used as an echo chamber in which the melodies are distorted, echoed, and suspended.
Première and only performance by Rihab Chaieb and La Ceilagh chamber choir, conducted by Michael Zaugg, on December 7th, 2008, in Westmount Park United Church, in Montréal, QC, Canada.