Therefore Choose Life was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) in honor of Manfred Honeck‘s tenth season as music director. The work premiered in Heinz Hall on September 22, 2017, and conducted by Manfred Honeck.
The work based on verse from Deuteronomy 30:19:
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live…
I feel that the phrase “therefore choose life” is essence of the verse.
In my work I tried to express my feeling that life (with all its pain, suffering and tragedies) is meant to be filled with beauty, hope, light and love.
I have written other pieces based on biblical themes: “The Lamentations of Jeremiah” oratorio, A Song of Ascent for Symphony Orchestra, and On Mount Sinai for Symphonic Wind Band. Hence, I was very glad to know from the PSO that maestro Honeck was hoping that my new work “would be inspired by spirituality”.
Therefore Choose Life was written as a free symphony poem, and its duration is approximately 14 minutes.
There are not quotes or references to Jewish liturgical music or other music, but in the coda, the theme of flutes & clarinets alludes to the singing of morning prayers or psalms.
The 11-minute symphonic poem is meditative but well varied at slow tempos, starting with a strong statement by the strings that conveys concern and aspiration. It leads to a section expressing some of life’s pains before turning to its antithesis – a beautiful and lushly scored section lifted by the light of a flute solo...
When I conducted the Israel Philharmonic, I got to know Boris Pigovat a little more and started looking at other pieces he's written. I wanted to do more with him. So I was very happy when he agreed to write something new for this season. I think his musical language is very beautiful. It has Russian depth and enormous emotions, but he is also a very, very humble man.