SSAA Chorus & Piano | 7′
With purchase: Unlimited vocal parts and piano/vocal score (approximately, $2.25 per part)
Text by Joanna Chen
The Colorado Hebrew Chorale
The Valley Awakens expresses the spiritual awakening of the human soul to greater possibilities and empowerment. The valley awakens to a new day, as we do. We are like the terebinth tree whose “branches weave and grow,” and whose “roots delve deep in the earth below, holding the earth together as one.” The Valley Awakens traverses mysterious harmonies, melodious passages, and rhythmic exuberance, culminating in a joyful celebration of collective empowerment.
More on the text from the poet, Joanna Chen:
Inspiration for this poem began with the terebinth tree I planted in my garden in the Ella Valley 26 years ago. It was a fragile sapling back then and, frankly, I wondered if it would survive. At first, I planted it by the front gate, and every time I walked by, I noted its limp leaves and flimsy trunk. It was lonely, I decided. One day, on impulse, I dug it up and moved it into the very center of the garden. Immediately, the terebinth began to thrive and today it towers above the house; its roots, similar to my own metaphorical ones, are firmly entrenched within the valley I love so much, and which provides me with continued inspiration for my writing.
I wanted this poem to weave through the earth and also to weave through the languages of both English and Hebrew. As a literary translator, I am fluent in both. I loved the thought of a poem that celebrates the here and now of our being, the beauty of each day anew, but also one which acknowledges our biblical roots. The Ella Valley is the biblical site of David and Goliath’s epic battle; the whole area, in fact, is steeped in biblical substance. Etz Chayim, taken from Proverbs, is believed to be what sustains and nourishes life.
Knowing that this was going to be set to music, I deliberately employed end rhymes through much of the English portion of the poem; in places, both the Hebrew and English gently rhyme too. The idea behind this was to present an atmosphere of harmony and simplicity. One of the lines, “b’ya-chad we belong”, mixes Hebrew with English on the very same line in a way which seems very natural to me.
I love the way David set this to music. In the opening bars I can easily visualize the terebinth tree in spring, its branches extending across the garden, pale amber pollen falling to the ground early morning as the bees begin their work, humming around the tree. Listen to those opening lines again and you’ll hear it too.
Languages: English and Hebrew (English transliteration, with notes on pronunciation). Level 3/4/5