BelPres composer-in-residence Alicia Lewis is committed to exploring the deeper elements of faith through her compositions. The great joy of that exploration is when the music leads her to new perspectives and understanding.
Of the composition that eventually became a featured work in concerts, she has chis to say:
“When tenor Ross Hauck casually mentioned thar he wished that he had a musical version of the story of Joseph to sing in concert, my first response was – Joseph?? My Sunday School flannel-graph image was of a spoiled dreamer who led a charmed Life. Yes, he was enslaved by jealous brothers, and imprisoned by a frustrated femme fatale, but he made out all right; he rose to the cop, eventually saved the Near Eastern world from famine, and maybe even rescued Western civilization … Oh, and he learned a little bit about forgiveness, mercy and providence along the way. Still, it seemed to me that Joseph the character was pretty two-dimensional.
After a year of living with this story-an amazing biography that receives the most loving attention of any biblical figure, outside the Gospel accounts of Jesus – I reconsidered my position.
The more l explored, the more deeply I was guided through the months to complete the words and music for the concert piece Joseph. The two-dimensional figure took on substance for me in surprising ways; I finished the work with a very different view from the one I started from. Ross Hauck got his musical version of Joseph (which will also be accompanied by narrator Robert Barnett) and I got a fresh new perspective on a familiar story.
This piece evolved as I gained understanding; his life story of strange reversal after strange reversal, of privilege and imprisonment, of penitence and prophecy, of power and providence, moved me to realize that his story is, in very many ways, our story, too.
If you have ever experienced jealousy, abuse, betrayal, anger, despair, remorse, anguish, culture shock, drudgery, exploitation, entrapment, loneliness, ostracism, or have been touched by God’s mercy, I think you will find something familiar in the story of Joseph. It has been both a privilege and a challenge to walk alongside chis man of the Bible, discovering a path that took me to new places in my own faith journey. I hope it does for you, too.”