Amid the Alien Corn (Ruth and Naomi) For soprano, mezzo-soprano, and piano (2019) | 12′

Text by E. Louise Beach

World Premiere of Amid the Alien Corn, Reaching for the Heavens: The Music of Composer Gerald Cohen, May 24, 2022, The Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, NY. Ilana Davidson, soprano; Heather Johnson, mezzo-soprano; Alexandra Joan, piano.

Program Note

Amid the Alien Corn (Ruth and Naomi) is the setting of a poetic canticle by E. Louise Beach, based on the first chapter of the biblical Book of Ruth. Naomi is returning to the land of Judah after living in Moab, having left Judah 10 years before because of a famine there. In that time she has seen her two sons marry Moabite women, and then experienced the death of her husband and both sons. She plans to return to Judah alone, but her daughter-in-law Ruth expresses her love and loyalty for Naomi and her people, and persists in her requests to leave her native land and accompany Naomi to Judah.

E. Louise Beach, in her poem, expands on the spare biblical text, deepening the emotional relationship between the two women as they experience this crucial moment in their lives. As a composer, I cherished the opportunity to create, in this short dramatic and lyrical scene, vocal characters for these two strong and empathetic women.

Amid the Alien Corn (Ruth and Naomi) was commissioned by E. Louise Beach, and dedicated to her mother, and to her daughters.

—Gerald Cohen