A song cycle by Osvaldo Golijov
with Miriam Khalil, soprano and Aventa Ensemble
Plus The Truth and the Truth by Juliet Palmer
with Bill Linwood, Solo Percussion
Thursday, October 25, 2018, 7 pm
Friday, October 26, 7 pm
Sunday, October 28, 7 pm
The Baumann Centre, 925 Balmoral Road
Stories of murder and love, war, seduction, and exile are told in music that veers from classical and klezmer to folk and opera, with a soundscape that includes harp and accordion, clarinet and laptop, and the lush, fiery colours of the soprano voice.
Sung in Arabic, Hebrew, Ladino, Sardinian, and Spanish, with English surtitles
A co-production with Aventa Ensemble
Ayre (meaning "melody" and "air" in medieval Spanish) draws its 11 songs from the three cultures – Jewish, Christian, Muslim – that intermingled in 15th century Spain. An eclectic fusion of traditional Sephardic melodies, ancient Biblical lamentations, Christian-Arab Easter songs, and contemporary Palestinian poetry, Ayre is a gorgeous collision of cultures, chameleonic in its mix of beauty and savagery.
Argentinian Jewish composer Osvaldo Golijov created Ayre in 2004 for the great American soprano Dawn Upshaw. The work now has an eloquent new exponent in Lebanese-Canadian soprano Miriam Khalil. In the words of the composer,
No one singer ... "owns" this piece in the way that Miriam Khalil does – I cannot even begin to express the emotion I feel when she sings Ayre: it is as if she was born to sing it, or, even better, "born for each other, she and Ayre"... Hearing and seeing her is a wild journey that leaves one exhausted and exhilarated at end.
Original production staged by Joel Ivany, Founder and Artistic Director, Against the Grain Theatre
Crazily ravishing ... carrying an earthy, almost biblical punch ... "Ayre," is a significant and relevant rumination on exile and history.
Richard Scheinin, San Jose Mercury News
If a modern classical work could ever crack the Top 40, this is it: Golijov has created a new beast, of bastard parentage and glorious plumage.
Alex Ross, The New Yorker
A careening, vital, emotional, wild concoction ...
And soprano Khalil ... is a mesmerizing, gorgeous presence in the piece. Khalil's voice is operatically trained, but emanates from a Christian Arab soul, so all the various elements of Ayre's wild range find a home somewhere in her emotional and cultural makeup.
Robert Harris, The Globe and Mail
At its center, the Lebanese-Canadian soprano Miriam Khalil fearlessly embodied the parade of characters represented in these songs, spinning out tales of ancient battles with an urgency and charisma that made them feel like yesterday's news.
Jeremy Eichler, Boston Globe review of Ayre at the Rockport Festival, 2018
Most of all, the evening belonged to Miriam Khalil, the singer in Ayre, described as a soprano in the program, but that's sort of like calling Niagara Falls a water feature. She had a range in notes, and expressive scope ... a sense of drama and motion in her voice, in her whole body that was utterly captivating.
Arthur Smith, afewreasonablewords.com