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October 18, 2002 - Image 92

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-10-18

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Arts & Entertainment

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A biblical story provides inspiration for poet
Alicia Ostriker and composer Moshe Budmor's
cantata with a message on war, women and God.


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A Poet's Lament


lthough both the poet and
the composer taught at the
Institute of Contemporary
Midrash in Philadelphia
and lived in Princeton, N.J., they'd
never talked with each other about
their art.
Then, on a ride home from the
institute, poet Alicia Suskin Ostriker
and composer Moshe Budmor finally
did — and decided to collaborate on a
musical work.
Their creation, the cantata Jephthah's

The Volcano Sequence (University of
Pittsburgh Press; $12.95) at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 25, at Lansing-Reilly Hall
on the McNichols-Livernois campus
of University of Detroit Mercy.
Ostriker, professor of English at
Rutgers University in New Jersey and
recently a visiting professor at Brandeis
University in Waltham, Mass., spoke
with the Jewish News and discussed the
modern importance and implications
of this story. She also shared the influ-
ences on her poetry, which has
appeared in numerous magazines
including the New Yorker, the Atlantic
Monthly, Lilith and Tikkun. She is

Daughter: A Lament for
Women's Voices, Piano,
Guitar, Woodblock and
Dumbeck, relates the tragic
biblical story of a young
Israelite girl who was slain
by her father as a sacrifice to
God. It will be performed 4
p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, at
Gesu Church in Detroit.
Dr. Ellen Rowe, director
of jazz studies at the
University of Michigan in
Alicia Suskin Ostriker Moshe Budmor
Ann Arbor, is directing the
production, which is spon-
sored by the Wornen's Studies Program married to Jeremiah P. Ostriker, an
and Master's Program in Religious
astrophysicist, and has three children
Studies of the University of Detroit
and two grandchildren.
Mercy and by the Writer's Voice of the
Budmor, 79, a retired professor of
music, talked to the Jewish News about
YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit.
working with Ostriker's poetry. Born
The introduction to the cantata per-
in Germany, he moved to pre-Isr. ael
formance tells the biblical story of .
Jephthah, who makes a vow before
Palestine at age 8, eventually serving as
leading the Israelites into battle against musical director of the Haifa
the Ammonites. If he succeeds,
Symphony, 1953-1958. He studied in
New York City at Juilliard School of
Jephthah tells God, he will sacrifice
the first person who comes to meet
Music and gained his Ph.D. in music
him when he returns home.
at Columbia University. His composi-
Sadly, it is his young daughter "who
tions -- many are choral works with
comes out with timbrels and dances to Jewish content — have been per-
greet him." She does not protest when
formed around the world. He is direc-
she learns of her father's promise.
tor of LASHIR, the Jewish
Jephthah allows her to spend two
Community Choir of Princeton. He is
married to the pianist Leah Lerner.
months in the mountains with her
companions before he fulfills his vow.
Jewish News: You say the choreogra-
In addition, Ostriker, 64, who is the
pher of the New York dance company
author of 10 volumes of poetry and
has been nominated twice for a
Avodah asked you to provide text for a
dance on family violence.
National Book Award, will read from
Ostriker: That got me started on
her recently published book of poems,

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