In Judaism, there is a saying: Cry for three days, lament for seven and mourn for thirty. Memory plays a key role in the Jewish mourning rituals and is central to Jewish culture. The seven-day shiva, a time when relatives of the deceased receive family and friends, is used for sharing memories. “Shiva for Anne” was the third part of the “Afterlife Trilogy” – a series of projects featuring the dirges and mourning rituals of the Christian, Islamic and Jewish religions. This project is dedicated to Jewish mourning rituals, in particular, the shiva. The centrepiece of the project was a work by the Swiss composer Mela Meierhans commemorating the British poet Anne Blonstein, who was supposed to write the libretto, but died in 2011 before she could begin. Blonstein and Meierhans had known each other personally and collaborated for many years – the central theme of remembering, therefore, has a personal background. Poems by Anne Blonstein are used as the basis for the new libretto with additional personal memories added by Meierhans herself. Both the piece and its performance are oriented around the seven days and six nights of the shiva. Scenically and musically, the piece mirrors the psycho-dynamic process of mourning – from anguish to release. Because of the importance of vocality in Jewish culture and musical tradition, the voice (in song and speech) plays a central role in the composition. The world premiere of “Shiva for Anne” took place at the MaerzMusik festival in Berlin in 2014, followed by performances in Lucerne, Antwerp, Chur and Basel.
Artistic director / composer: Mela Meierhans
Musical director: Raphael Immoos (CH), Stage director: Fritz Hauser (CH), Lighting: Brigitte Dubach (CH), Poetry: Anne Blonstein (GB), Singers: Basler Madrigalisten, ensemble dialogue and others