Lament on the Good Life

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for SATBB, baritone soloist, and piano four hands (7.5 min.)

This work was a collaboration with my father, Eliezer Margolis.  Here is his note to prospective singers of the work:

The text of “Lament On The Good Life” was written to be performed, throughout, in the manner of sacred music.  Because the text of “Lament” is neither the liturgy of a worship service nor rooted in the literary tropes of an organized religious tradition, the sense in which it is intended as sacred music may be somewhat elusive to its performers.

Sacred music is most commonly associated with hallowed places of sanctuary and communal prayer and with spiritual purposes, as opposed to show-business venues and the pursuit of entertainment for its own sake that are associated with non-sacred music.  Though explicitly secular in its grounding, “Lament” shares with much of religiously inspired sacred music a motive to stir in its listeners transformative psychological forces.  Its true purpose is the assertion of a spiritual ideal:  the absolute and indispensable value of human goodness.  “Lament” also shares with much of religiously inspired sacred music an affinity with a particular set of emotional tones and colorations.  Specifically, in the instance of “Lament”, its emotional tones are those that participate in hard-to-name but unmistakable feelings—the feelings that accompany moments of authentic, depth awareness that our lives and all that our lives are embedded in is sacred:  humility, mystery, reverence, awe.

The instrumentalists and choral singers are urged to approach their performance of “Lament” as an intensely personal act of offering—a service of bringing to others, through their musical gifts, their own unique sense of those universal spiritual values that must be affirmed if we are to retain a redeeming humanness.