On October 28th, At The Dawn, I Seek Thee was premiered by The Vocal Arts Ensemble of Ann Arbor, and their director, Benjamin Cohen. This piece for mixed choir SATB, on a text by 11th Century Andalusian Rabbi, Solomon ibn Gabirol, was commissioned by the VAE and Benjamin Cohen for their October concert entitled The Darkness is No Darkness. I dedicated this piece to the memory of Andrew Hibshman.
Andrew was gentle. He cared for others more than himself. I love this picture of Andrew in his son’s Wyoming ranch, holding a baby goat. Andrew’s desire was to look after anyone he came in contact with. The light was evident in his eyes. They glinted with humor and brimmed with gentleness. Andrew was my gateway to Judaism in many ways. His Jewish heritage was a source of pride as well as a wellspring for his indomitable humor.
I chose this text to set and dedicate to Andrew and his memory, because of the gentleness that emanated from the text. There is passionate devotion, especially in the beginning where the dawn is depicted, but it ends with the gentleness of the evening, and the eternal devotion to the deity. On those last words While the breath of God dwells in me, I will sing… I imagine Andrew’s gentle smile and eternal optimism as he left this life. I am forever grateful for the time I spent with him.
At the dawn, I seek Thee,
Refuge and rock sublime,
Set my prayer before Thee in the morning,
And my prayer at eventime.
I before Thy greatness stand, and am afraid:
All my secret thoughts Thine eye beholdeth
Deep within my bosom laid.
And withal what is it Heart and tongue can do?
What is this my strength, and what is even This the spirit in me too?
But indeed our singing May seem good to Thee;
So we praise thee singing.
While the breath of God Dwells in me, I will sing.
–Solomon ibn Gabirol (11th Century Spain)
Andrew Hibshman pictured with a baby goat in Wyoming on his son’s ranch.
Here is the premiere:
At The Dawn I Seek Thee
Vocal Arts Ensemble of Ann Arbor
Jenny O’Neill, soprano Nicole Wills, mezzo-soprano Tyler Hodges, tenor Frank Doherty, baritone
Benjamin Cohen, conductor
Here are some rehearsal clips: