Christian American composer Esther Upham has created a refreshing and inspiring piece of contemporary classical music for the world to enjoy. Born in Chicago, Esther attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she completed a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Pedagogy and a Master of Music degree in Piano Accompanying. Upon completing her degrees, she taught as an adjunct faculty member at Indiana University at South Bend. She began putting Biblical words to music in 2003 and composing in 2004.
Esther’s first full choir and orchestral piece, Ahava Mitgala (Love Revealed), premiered in Jerusalem, Israel. The music was inspired as a result of living and working in Israel as a volunteer. After moving to Israel in 2007, the people of Israel, the land, and the internal impact of her experiences led her to connect with words written in the Bible. This combination of passions soon inspired her to create music, and the composition came together quickly.
The messages within the Bible were her basis of inspiration, and she drew on their themes. Their motifs infuse her music and have become the sole source of the lyrics she has used. This was done in order to share the true essence of the messages that are pervasive throughout the Bible. Moved by the expression of words in the Hebrew language, she translated her work into Hebrew and believes it is the most authentic way to present the contents of scripture.
For Ahava Mitgala, Esther had the opportunity to be accompanied by the highly talented Israel Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Elli Jaffe, who is considered one of the leading figures in Jewish music today. A celebrated and auspicious figure, Jaffe has conducted orchestras around the world and studied at the London Royal Academy of Music.
Esther’s work was also perfected by the participation of the Jerusalem A-Cappela Singers. The entire performance was directed by Judi Axelrod, who has been conducting the chamber choir for seven years. Axelord expressed her joy at the opportunity to try to break down the barriers between religions, and found great appreciation for the quality, contrast, and diversity of this particular performance, spearheaded by Esther.
The oratorio recorded on the CD shares Biblical passages which focus on the relationship between God and Israel. Words from the Song of Songs talk of the love God has for his people, and sections from Jeremiah speak of when Israel fell away from its devotion to God. The continual love God has for His people and the promises of the restoration of Israel are sung, as well as lyrics that tell of the prophecies regarding the Messiah. Portions of the composition highlight the beautiful sounds of the strings, oboe, piano, trumpet, and of course the magnificent orchestra itself.
The passages chosen for the music are from sections important to people of Judeo-Christian faiths, and reflect the love of and commitment Esther Upham has for her own religion. The collaboration between Esther and Jewish composers reveals the strong ties the communities can build upon and empathizes the need to come together. The respect Esther has for the Jewish people, and the true desire she has to share the words of the Bible with the world are evident in her music. This love and desire transcends divisions. Esther’s passion for presenting and sharing her love of the Bible, Israel, and music is now available to people around the world.