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Amos Elkana

Amos Elkana

Interweaving Performance Cultures

Fellow 2013/14

Born in Boston in 1967, Amos Elkana grew up in Jerusalem. He studied Jazz guitar at Berklee College of Music and composition at the New England Conservatory of Music. He then went on to Bard College, where he earned an MFA in electronic music and sound. Over the years, Elkana has received numerous awards for his compositions, among them the 2011 Israeli Prime Minister’s Prize for Music Composition and the 2012 Rozenblum Prize for excellence in the arts. Elkana composes concert music for orchestras, ensembles and individual performers as well as for dance, theatre and film. His works have been performed and recorded by ensembles and musicians from all over the world, including the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and the clarinetist Richard Stoltzman. Elkana is also an active performer. He regularly participates in concerts and performances of improvised music where he plays the electric guitar and does computer processing.

Research Project

Nathan the Wise. A new Opera/Movie

During my time in Berlin I will work on a new opera/movie that is based on the play Nathan der Weise (Nathan the Wise). This project is a collaboration between myself as composer and Dr. Michael Roes as writer and film director. The work’s theme is based on the concept of brotherhood and the conviction that Jews, Christians and Muslims deserve to co-exist without being attacked or denigrated. Nathan proposes that a man should be judged simply as a man and not as a member of a particular group, since the value of the individual as a human being supersedes his creed or religion. The story told in this play is, of course, extremely relevant to our time, which has been marked by distrust and fear based on ethnic and cultural differences. As an Israeli and a Jew, I must deal with my own demons stemming from the Israeli-Arab conflict with its bloody past and present as well as from the terrible past between Jews and Germans. As such, it is always intriguing for me to find bridges between Jewish and German as well as between Israeli and Arab culture. This is one of the main reasons why I am interested in creating works that involve these three cultures by way of language, ideas and meanings. One of my key ideas for the libretto of this opera is to have each character sing in their native language.

Recommended Publications

  • Elkana, A. (Music)/Roes, M. (Lyrics), Arabic Lessons (Music Score), Tel Aviv: Israel Music Institute 1998.
  • Lessing, G. E., Nathan the Wise, translated by E. Kemp, London: Hern, 2004.

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung