2014 Archives

The Biblical story of Saul inspires Dallas composer


The following is from the June 4, 2014, edition of The Dallas Morning News. Simon Sargon is professor of composition in SMU's Meadows School of the Arts.

June 6, 2014

By Scott Cantrell
Classical Music Critic

Dramatic stories from Judeo-Christian scripture propel Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila, Strauss’ Salome, Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron. Although designed for concert, rather than staged, performance, Handel oratorios including Israel in Egypt, Solomon, Saul and Judas Maccabaeus dramatize biblical controntations in wholly operatic music.

The performance, expected to last about an hour and a half, features a starry cast: baritone Donnie Ray Albert as Saul, tenor Clifton Forbis as David and bass-baritone Stephen Morscheck as Samuel. Sargon will accompany on piano and supply linking narration.

Sargon, a familiar — indeed, beloved — figure on the North Texas classical-music scene, started thinking about a Saul opera around the time he became director of music at Temple Emanu-El, in 1974. With a Meadows Foundation grant, he began serious work on the opera in the mid-’80s, completing it in 1989. After a first performance at Southern Methodist University, where he joined the music faculy in 1983, Sargon decided the opera needed more work.

“It turned into a nearly 20-year process of rewriting, revising, tinkering,” he says, “until I finally got it to the point I was happy with it and wanted to have it heard by people.”

Read the full story.

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