Intonations: Songs from the Violins of Hope (2020)
Words by Gene Scheer & Music by Jake Heggie
A 40-minute song cycle for mezzo-soprano, solo violin, string quartet and youth solo violin. Texts by Gene Scheer based on stories about violins played by Jews in concentration camps during the Holocaust; inspired by James Grymes’ book Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust – Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour (Harper Perennial. Used by Permission). Commissioned by Music at Kohl Mansion and made possible by a 2017 Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions Grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
First Performance: Jan 18, 2020 at Kohl Mansion, Burlingame, CA; mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, violinist Daniel Hope, quartet from the San Francisco Opera Orchestra featuring Kay Stern (violin 1), Dawn Harms (violin 2), Patricia Heller (viola) and Emil Miland (cello), with youth solo violinist Sean Mori.
Violins of Hope West Coast Debut Hailed a Success!
The centerpiece of the instruments’ residency is the premiere of “Intonations,” Heggie’s song cycle, written to a libretto by Gene Scheer for mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke with violinist Daniel Hope and a string quartet drawn from the Opera Orchestra. Each song represents the voice of a different violin, telling its own story.
The world premiere of Intonations: Songs from the Violins of Hope, by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer, forms the powerful center of the new Pentatone release . . . emotionally devastating and cathartic.