Yetzer Hara, for orchestra (2016)
Winner of the 2nd Annual Tampa Bay Symphony Call for Scores.
Performed on the Tampa Bay Symphony's Spring 2018 Concert Series on April 29, May 1, and May 6, 2018; conducted by Mark Sforzini.
Premiered by the University of Delaware Symphony Orchestra on March 16, 2017, conducted by Dr. James Allen Anderson.
Finalist in the 2017 American Prize in Composition (Orchestra, student division).
In Jewish mysticism, the “yetzer hara” refers to one’s “evil inclination,” or the desire to commit acts that are considered evil or immoral. The yetzer hara is controlled and restrained by the “yetzer hatov,” or the inclination to do good things and commit acts of kindness. Rabbinic teachings emphasize the importance of both inclinations – without the yetzer hara, people would have no sense of motivation or purpose to their actions, but the yetzer hatov is necessary to ensure that those actions do not harm others. Thus, the two inclinations depend on each other for balance.
This teaching resonates with me very personally, as someone who was prone to fits of anger while I was growing up. My adolescent years tested me as I struggled to keep my yetzer hara in check. Even at the time of this piece’s creation, I was struggling with the evil inclination, which was feeding feelings of animosity I had towards people that I believed had wronged me. This is a battle I will fight for the rest of my life, but I believe that balance will come with time and patience. We must all fight to keep our inclinations balanced, so that we are able to mature emotionally as human beings.