"David Felder and I decided to begin working together.
This fact was an important, life-changing outcome from my time at SUNY/ Buffalo."
- Elliot Caplan
Shamayim and Chashmal
A collaborative production between composer, David Felder and filmmaker, Elliot Caplan. Shamayim begins with Felder’s writing of voice & electronics for singer Nicholas Isherwood. To begin, Caplan recorded a series of images based on conversations with the composer and together built the piece using Hebrew letters as structure for the music and the numeric value of Hebrew letters to inform the editing processes.
Composed for single screen.
Music/ David Felder Images/Direction/ Elliot Caplan Base voice / Nicholas Isherwood
Total Running Time 34:28
Available for purchase from Albany Records.
Review from American Record Guide, May/June 2010, pp 226-227:
According to a fascinating but somewhat elliptical conversation between Felder and Caplan that takes the place of liner notes, this video-music work involved structural principles derived from Hebrew letters (which, according to Caplan, imply a sense of direction and movement as well as contain a numeric value). Indeed, "Shamayim" is Hebrew for "heavens", and the first two sections also carry Hebrew titles: the first, 'Chashmal', refers to the fiery radiance surrounding God on His chariot in Ezekiel's vision (Ezekiel 1:1-3); Felder himself translates the second, 'Sa'arah', as "stormy wind". In all three movements (the last is called 'Black Fire/White Fire'), the computer-generated sounds draw principally on Isherwood's wide-ranging vocal virtuosity, while the video presents many images from nature— trees, a lake, clouds—sometimes supplemented by other images (luminous hexagons are prominent) and other video processing. Sometimes I almost hear a text; the musicologist in me would like to know the text and translation, if any, but the notes supply none. I'm struck by Felder's remark that the work is "operatic" in size—that it loses quite a bit if one's not able to see it projected in a dark hall on a big screen. I can imagine the work making an even stronger impression in such a venue.
As it is, I find Shamayim a complex and (in the best sense of the word) awesome work. The music is abstract but not forbidding, and the images arresting and unforgettable. In particular, I'm glad to see Caplan's work. He's had a long career that includes collaborations with John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and the American composer Michael Gordon and hasn't gotten the attention that it deserves—most likely because the kind of theater that he's creating is so difficult to describe but so important to see.
Chashmal, single-channel video with composer David Felder, September 2006
Theatrical Stage Design by Elliot Caplan
with the Arditti Quartet:
Irvine Arditti, violin
Ralf Ehlers, viola
Music/ David Felder Images/ Elliot Caplan
Les Quatre Temps Cardinaux
Les Quatre Temps Cardinaux
Performed at Lippes Concert Hall,
June in Buffalo Festival,
ensemble SIGNAL with members of the Slee Sinfionetta
Conductor, Brad Lubman
Soprano Soloist, Heather Buck
Bass-Baritone Soloist, Ethan Herschenfeld
Composer, David Felder
Post Production Direction and Editing, Picture Start Films