The Bible Tapes

A hundred years ago, when radio first became popular, radioplays were the hit of the day. The art of the radioplay seems to have been lost in the commotion of television, and now, of internet. A Dutch director, Peter te Nuyl, has always been fascinated by the Bible, and wanted to find a form to bring the Bible onto the stage. After having produced many radioplays, he decided to use that form as a way to produce a 20-DVD series entitled ‘The Bible Tapes’. Without changing a word, he invited actors to read the Bible. Just the fact that it was being read aloud by different actors gave it a dramatic dimension. The Psalms, though,  have a different literary form than most of the other books, and therefore required a different treatment. Peter decided to ask composers to select a Psalm and to set it to music.

I was one of the composers he asked. The first major obstacle was that I was able to choose any Psalm I wanted. It was fascinating to actually read what actually takes place in the Psalms, and Psalm 82, which I chose to set, is a good example of the unexpected.

God is sitting in a tribunal of the gods, stands up and gets angry at all the gods surrounding him. He accuses the gods of being unjust, and not defending the poor. He said: ‘Because of that, even though you are all Gods, you’re going to die, just like men.’

The powerful of the earth who were supposed to protect the poor, neglected them in their lust for their own power and might. I guess this still holds true 2500 years later.

This certainly is not a text that one would expect in a book about monotheism. But there it is…. I set the piece using trumpet and horn, harp, cello and baritone. The trumpet and horn are able to emphasize the drama, and the anger. It’s almost as if this Psalm, eight lines long, is an opera in itself. All of the human emotions that we find in the Bible are represented here: hunger for power, anger, self-destruction. In the final analysis, it seems, all of us die, even the gods.

The song will be recorded on October the 24th. With Marc Pantus interpreting the role. Stay tuned to this channel…

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