Ruth and Naomi Set to Music

Posted on Dec 07, 2020

Cantor Gerald Cohen, an assistant professor in JTS’s H. L. Miller Cantorial School, is also a prolific composer. His new work, Amid the Alien Corn (Ruth and Naomi) will have its world premiere as part of a concert of Cantor Cohen’s music next fall at JTS. The piece, for soprano, mezzo-soprano, and piano, is the setting of a poetic canticle by E. Louise Beach, based on the first chapter of the biblical Book of Ruth.  

Cantor Cohen writes: “In her poem, Ms. Beach expands on the spare biblical text, deepening the portrayal of the emotional relationship between the two women as they experience this crucial moment in their lives. Musically, it moves from an anxious beginning—as the women face the loss of husbands and children, and the seeming inevitability of separating from each other—to a tender and hopeful ending, as Ruth declares her loyalty to Naomi and they begin their travels together. As a composer, I cherished the opportunity to create, in this short dramatic and lyrical scene, vocal characters for these two strong and empathetic women. Amid the Alien Corn (Ruth and Naomi) was commissioned by E. Louise Beach, and dedicated to her mother and her daughters.”