Generously commissioned by Yale University for Yale Schola Cantorum, David Hill, director, and by San Francisco Philharmonia Baroque, Richard Egarr, music director

  • 2S,A,2T,Bbar + mixedch; 2(II:pic).2(II:ca).2(II:bcl).2/
  • Chorus
  • 2 Soprano, Alto, 2 Tenor, Bass-Baritone
  • 40 min

Programme Note

I. There was there is
II. Draw Me After
III. Everywhere We Look
IV. I See a Land That's Lost
V. Wanting Song

Pulitzer Prize and Grammy award-winning Aaron Jay Kernis' and MacArthur Fellowship winner Peter Cole's oratorio Edensongs addresses the most pressing of contemporary environmental and social crises by turning to the oldest of traditions. It emerges from ruminations on topics ranging from paradise to climate change, from kabbalah to the garden as a locus of value in Jewish, Islamic, and Renaissance traditions. In this charged context Eden is always with us, even not, as a place of first response and responsibility. As the oratorio weaves lyric re-configurations of the Book of Genesis with the Song of Songs, an apocalyptic meeting of poems by Paul Celan with the scene of the 2018 Paradise, California fires, passages from Rumi with original poetry by the librettist, Edensongs brings together two artists working at the height of their powers—looking forward as they also look back.  

Edensongs is a 45-minute oratorio for SATB choir and soloists, with chamber orchestra (2222 2220 timp 1 perc string) or string orchestra with a small number of winds. The last movement, Wanting Song is available as a stand-alone movement for chorus, four soloists, oboe (or other melodic instrument) and piano.

Peter Cole is the author of six books of poems and has translated widely from Hebrew and Arabic literature, medieval and modern. He has received numerous honors for his work, including a PEN Translation Prize, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a MacArthur Fellowship, and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature.




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