sharon farber 88.
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US-based Israeli composer Sharon Farber, whose new piece Translucent Stones will be premiered this week by the Israeli Chamber Orchestra (which commissioned it), enjoys parallel careers as a composer of both movie scores and classical music.
Working for such prestigious companies as NBC, Showtime and Warner Brothers, as for independent features, Farber won the Telly Award in 1998 for Best Score for the docudrama series California 2000, while her chorale composition, The Third Mother/Mothers' Lament, written in memory of slain reporter Daniel Pearl, took first prize in the Cincinnati Camerata Composition Competition.
"I really love them both," says Farber, speaking over the phone from her Los Angeles home. "One is about providing a service to those who pay you, while the other is about total freedom."
The composer compares the creation of a film to giving birth. "People are pregnant with their movie for a long time, sometimes for years. Then they are just about to give birth and here comes the person who is going to dress the baby. More often than not, the people who are so knowledgeable in film production know almost nothing about music and are naturally worried. I respect their vision, and help them express it. They may not know how the oboe sounds, but they know the mood of a given scene. Helping another person's dream come true is an amazing feeling."
According to Farber, composing scores both does and does not involve team work. "Nowadays, you write everything on a computer, so when the director drops in every few days, he or she hears the score in progress exactly as it would sound in the film. There's no place for surprises here, and sometimes it's not really what they meant - as in, 'Here it should feel love and not sadness,' - so you try and change it."
"But with all due respect to the technology," Farber continues, "there's nothing like working with real musicians, like conducting, like creating live music and knowing you are a part of it. It's such a high, it's addictive."
"I like to write music which moves people, which makes them feel," emphasizes Farber, who composes pieces for orchestra and choir. When Pearl was slain, she felt a need to do something for his family, especially as Daniel's father Judea, an amateur musician, is a friend of hers.
"No words could express what they were going through."
She composed an a capella piece to a poem by Nathan Alterman, "The Third Mother," recorded it with a vocal ensemble and sent it to Judea.
"He was so moved," recalls Farber. She also sent the piece to the L.A. Master Chorale, which ultimately staged a premiere at the LA Music Center with 120 professional singers.
"To sit in this beautiful hall with 3,000 people, all of whom were deeply moved, was an amazing feeling - to know that music can do what words cannot. And that's what makes me write more concert music," sha says.
Gil Shohat, the artistic director of the Israel Chamber Orchestra who commissioned The Translucent Rocks, asked her to relate to the fact that it's been 40 years since Jerusalem's reunification. "I immediately thought about the rocks which have been there forever, from long before we came, and which will be there long after we're gone. They only observe; they see all the history from the beginning of the Land of Israel and way before that. And I thought that stones can also be translucent - that is, crystals - so history can pass through them."
Tuesday through Thursday, 8:30 p.m., at the Tel Aviv Museum of Arts. The program also features Brahms' Violin Concerto with Rachel Barton Pine as soloist and Beethoven's Third Symphony. (03) 518-8845, ext. 106