||. . . A Perfect Rest
||A Jewish Prayer of Remembrance
||Bitensky, Laurence Scott
|Year/Date of CompositionY/D of Comp.
||2003-03-16 – The Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Mark Laycock (conductor)
||2000 – Silly Black Dog Music
|Average DurationAvg. Duration
|Composer Time PeriodComp. Period
||Orchestra: 2 flutes/piccolo, oboe, English horn, 2 clarinets (B♭/clarinet (E♭, 2 bassoons + 2 horns, 2 trumpets (C), trombone + timpani + harp, strings
Distinguished Finalist - 2007 New England Philharmonic Call for Scores / Finalist- 2007 Columbia Orchestra Call for Scores / Distinguished Finalist - 2006 New England Philharmonic Call for Scores / Winning Entry -- Omaha Symphony New Music Competition (2004); Special Distinction - 22nd ASCAP Foundation Rudolf Nissim Award (2002)
". . . a perfect rest" is based on a traditional melody for El Male Rachamim, the Jewish memorial prayer. The prayer and its melody have a long and painful history. During the bloody Chmielnitzki pogroms of 1648, four Jewish communities were captured by the Tatars. When the cantor, or chazzan, Hirsch of Zywotow, chanted the prayer El Male Rachamim, the congregation burst into tears, moving the Tatars to release the three-thousand Jews. A similar story told of the chazzan Solomon Rasumny of the Russian town of Kishinev. In 1903, Czarist officials organized a wave of anti-Semitic violence against a population already left impoverished from Czarist laws restricting Jewish rights. Jews were massacred, homes and synagogues were destroyed, and thousands of Jews were left homeless. As a response, the Kishinev chazzan Rasumny composed a melody for El Male Rachamim. This melody has been preserved and forms the basis for ". . . a perfect rest." His stirring composition shows the intense emotional power of the East European cantorial style known as chazzanut. The opening cello solo is a free adaptation of the melody followed by what is essentially one long orchestral interpretation, commentary, and variation.