Text: Solveig Hansen
Bret Zvacek’s newest composition for jazz orchestra, “If a White Horse From Jerusalem”, is inspired by Ada Aharoni’s poem by the same name.
Bret Zvacek presented his new work in concert with Central New York Jazz Orchestra, featuring legendary saxophonist David Liebman as soloist, on April 16 in Syracuse, New York. Liebman played with Miles Davis in the 1970s.
See the video of Bret Zvacek speaking about the composition. Zvacek is Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at The Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, and Musical Director of the Central New York Jazz Orchestra.
Ada Aharoni’s inspiration for the poem was a white runaway horse that found its way to her street in Haifa and smiled at her:
“When the children were still young and I was working full time, to get an hour for my creative writing I used to wake up at 5.00 am and go to my study to write. On one of those days, I pulled the shutters and was so surprised to see a beautiful white horse, without a rider, who looked up at me in my Horev Street, and smiled at me! At first I thought I was dreaming, but it stopped, raised its head again toward me and smiled again a full smile, I could actually see its white teeth! It then nobly and elegantly strode away up the street.
“This is when I sat down and wrote the poem. Later, I found out that it was a horse that walked away from the Druze village Ussfiya, came to visit me, and then went back to the village for his early breakfast!”
IF A WHITE HORSE FROM JERUSALEM
By Ada Aharoni
If a white horse from golden Jerusalem,
bearing a message from the land of global peace
strides so valiantly
in the early dawn hours
of my own street,
as if it were the ocean
as if it were the bright blue sky –
then all is possible.
Perhaps, he has come
with a magic
to make all chains of weapons vanish,
and to make you fly with me.
Perhaps, before my hair falls
my teeth clatter,
before my breath whistles
and I suffocate
in the infamous nuclear fumes
of a nuclear winter.
Perhaps, he will lift us
on his white wings
and raise the world to year 2000 beyond wars,
for if a white horse
from the land of global peace,
strides so valiantly
in my own street – as if it were the ocean,
as if it were the sky,
Then all is possible…
Incidentally, Ussfiya is the same village where IFLAC some years later, in 1996, established their Tent of Peace, in which inter-cultural meetings and happenings were regularly held.
“I had a strange feeling we knew each other when he smiled at me,” Ada says about her encounter with the White Horse from Ussfiya.