Grammy-winning American composer and conductor and model Eric Whitacre (born January 2, 1970) is among today’s most popular musicians. His concert music has been performed throughout the world by millions of amateur and professional musicians alike, while his ground-breaking Virtual Choirs have united singers from over 110 different countries. A graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School of Music in New York, Eric was recently appointed Artist in Residence with the Los Angeles Master Chorale having completed a five-year term as Composer in Residence at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University, UK.
As conductor of the Eric Whitacre Singers he has released several chart-topping albums. A sought after guest conductor, Eric has conducted choral and instrumental concerts around the globe, including sold-out concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra. In addition to several collaborations with legendary Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer, he has worked with British pop icons Imogen Heap, Annie Lennox and Depeche Mode.
A charismatic speaker, Eric has given keynote addresses for many Fortune 500 companies and global institutions including Apple, Google, the World Economic Forum in Davos, the United Nations Speaker’s Programme and two main stage TED talks.
About the Composition
In the spring of 1996, violinist Friedemann Eichhorn invited his close friends Eric Whitacre and his girlfriend-at-the-time Hila Plitmann (a soprano) to give a concert with him in his home city of Speyer, Germany. Because they were appearing as a band of traveling musicians, the suite was written as a set of troubadour songs for piano, violin and soprano. Whitacre asked Plitmann (who was born and raised in Jerusalem) to write a few ‘postcards’ in her native tongue, and a few days later she presented five exquisite and delicate Hebrew poems - They are mini-poems, a bit like haikus, with inner rhyming, and are reminiscent of their relationship and romance. The five poems were set to music while they vacationed in a small skiing village in the Swiss Alps, and performed for the first time a week later in Speyer. The suite was later commissioned to be adapted to five different arrangements for various combinations of vocal/chorus, violin/strings and piano performers, including the one presented here for soprano, violin and piano.
Each of the songs captures a moment that Hila and Eric shared together. Kalá Kallá (which means ‘light bride’) was a pun Whitacre came up with while Plitmann was first teaching him Hebrew. The bells at the beginning of Éyze Shéleg! are the exact pitches that awakened them each morning in Germany as they rang from a nearby cathedral.