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"A Jew Among the Indians", Boston, MA, 17 Jan 2009

for orchestra and narrator
based on COKBOY by Jerome Rothenberg

Boston Modern Orchestra Project
Gil Rose - conductor Matti Kovler - narrator

Jordan Hall, Boston January 17th 2009 08:00 PM

details: www.bmop.org/season/concert_detail.aspx?cid=91

Matti Kovler's A Jew Among the Indians (Cokboy) is a highly personal setting of a highly personal, and also political, poem by the New York-born poet Jerome Rothenberg (b.1931). Rothenberg, who has also been an anthologist, translator, and anthropologist, included Cokboy (parts 1 and 2; only part 1 is set here) in his collection Poland/1931, published 1974. The premise is that of a Jew, narrating in the first person, finding himself among the American Indians (Rothenberg lived on a Seneca reservation for a time), a displaced Jew among a people whose culture has become displaced from around them. Between them mistrust and sympathy go hand in hand, the narrator blending the elements of his culture with that of the Indians: "in gold mines & shaky stores/the fur trade heavy agriculture ballots bullets barbers/who threatenmy beard your hair/but patronize me/ vot am I doink here/ dis place ismaybe crazy/ has all the letters going backwards/

His "vot am i doink here," the deliberately assumed Eastern European-Yiddish accent, is both comic put-on and expression of his insecurity. Kovler in his setting carries it a step further, incorporating very naturally an ancient Hassidic chant that adds texture to the stream-of-consciousness, multi-layered meaning and perspectives of the poem.

P R E - C O N C E R T T A L K with the evening's composers hosted by Lisa Bielawa, Composer in Residence 7:00

Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory
30 Gainsborough Street, Boston

For more information visit www.bmop.org or call 617.363.0396

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