The White Rooster

The White RoosterA Tale of Compassion for Women’s Vocal Quartet, Tibetan singing bowls and frame drums.

Music by Sheila Silver
Libretto by Stephen Kitsakos

The White Rooster is a postmodern musical interpretation of a mythic Tibetan folk story placed within a contemporary setting in the tradition of a “play within a play.” Conceived for the four female voices of Tapestry, the Boston-based singing ensemble, traditional Tibetan melodies are used along with chant, ensemble singing, recitative, aria, and spoken dialogue. The work’s sole instrumentation is provided by six Tibetan singing bowls performed, for the most part, by the women, while various ethnic hand drums are played by a percussionist. The piece is designed to be performed in any theater or non-theatre venue/found space.

The story is as follows: five Tibetan Buddhist nuns are fleeing to India when one of them is shot by a soldier. They take refuge in an abandoned hut. While nursing their wounded sister, they enact a Tibetan tale about suppression, liberation and forgiveness. In the end, help comes from a most unexpected source. Emanating a spirit of reconciliation and healing, the piece celebrates the power of individual acts of compassion.

The work was commissioned by the Smithsonian’s  Freer Sackler Gallery for their 2010 exhibit, In the Realm of the Buddha, which included works by the 17th century Tibetan monk, patron, and painter, Situ Panchen, as well as The Tibetan Shrine from the Alice S. Kandell Collection.  The cantata was premiered in July 2010 and is currently being toured internationally by Tapestry.

Past Productions
2010 – 2014

United States
Freer & Sackler Art Gallery of the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.
St. Cloud Chamber Music Series, St. Cloud MN
Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, IA
Memphis Chamber Music Series, Memphis, TN
Eugene Early Music Series, Eugene, OR
Los Angeles Chamber Music Series, Los Angeles, CA
Sacred Music Festival Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo, MI
Rocky River Chamber Music Series, Cleveland, OH
The Dorsky Museum at SUNY New Paltz, New Paltz, NY
Helsinki Club, Hudson, NY
Staller Performing Arts Center, Stony Brook, NY
Bogota, Medellin & Tunja, Colombia – Sponsored by Banco Republico
Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, Ottawa, Canada

LIBRETTO – The White Rooster  PDF