The Ziggurat Builders (2011)
A composition for Voices, ‘Ūd and Cello
Composed by Marcus Davidson, Poetry by Sargon Boulus (1944-2007)
Performed by Voice, Khyam Allami ('Ūd) and Tara Franks (Cello)
PREMIERE – FRIDAY 3 JUNE 2011
St Ethelburga's Center for Peace and Reconciliation 76 Bishops's Gate Liverpool St, London
Davidson’s intriguing composition, The Ziggurat Builders, creates a new sound source for the, as yet, unexplored combination of ‘ūd, voice and cello. The piece takes its title and libretto from a poem by the late Iraqi Assyrian poet Sargon Boulus, translated into English by the author, and is the first time that Boulus’s work is set to music. It opens with an ancient sanskrit prayer to the sun.
Ancient Sanskrit prayer
Om jabakushuma sankasham, kashyapeyam, mahadyutim Dhantarim sarva - papaghnam pranotohasmi divakaram
Who's redness at dawn is that of the hibiscus flower Child of Kashypa, O great light
You hold for us all our sins
We therefore bow down to you, O herald of the day
The Ziggurat Builders
the first dreamers
who embodied the shape
of a dream in clay:
a stairwell of prayers that will scale the heights.
a stranger once
passed among them,
will be redeemed
in the form
of a ziggurat - this ship of the gods whose figurehead
will rend the clouds.
it is a sea of time, on whose shore from time to time, we might glimpse an ancestor's figure in white, who will nod to us
across a thousand years and wait for his ship.
- Sargon Boulus
from The Knife Sharpener (Banipal, 2009, pp.108-109)