Composer Richard Danielpour’s oratorio, “The Passion of Yeshua” has been, by his admission, a work that has been 25 years in the making. It details the last hours of Jesus Christ utilizing ancient Hebrew texts and other primary scriptural sources from antiquity, and has been nominated for three Grammy Awards.
Classic 107.3 host Tom Sudholt notes, “As a child, Danielpour was exposed to the great Christian-based masterpieces such as Bach’s ‘St. Matthew Passion’ and, being of Jewish and Middle Eastern heritage, he immediately wondered why it was being sung in German instead of Aramaic or Hebrew. Thus began his progression resulting in this oratorio. He is an enthusiastically warm, friendly, and grateful man who takes nothing for granted in his life, especially the people he knows and knew, and while the work is about Yeshua’s passion, it is an expression of Richard Danielpour’s as well. It is a quality that he seems to express continuously and is an essential part of his ability to draw you into a conversation – or a musical collaboration, as you will discover in the interview. I hope others will enjoy the conversation with him as much as I did.”
Grammy Award-winning composer Richard Danielpour has established himself as one of the most gifted and sought-after composers of his generation. His music has attracted an international and illustrious array of champions, and, as a devoted mentor and educator, he has also had a significant impact on the younger generation of composers. His list of commissions include some of the most celebrated artists of our day, including Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman, Dawn Upshaw, Susan Graham, Emanuel Ax, Gil Shaham, Frederica von Stade, Thomas Hampson, Gary Graffman, Anthony McGill, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, the Guarneri and Emerson String Quartets, the New York City, Pacific Northwest and Nashville Ballets, and institutions such as the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Maryinsky and Vienna Chamber Orchestras, Orchestre National de France, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and many more.
With Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Danielpour created Margaret Garner, his first opera, which premiered in 2005 and had a second production with New York City Opera. He has received two awards from the American Academy and Institute of Arts & Letters, a Guggenheim Award, the Bearns Prize from Columbia University, two Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships, and The Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin. He served on the composition faculty of Manhattan School of Music from 1993 to 2017. Danielpour recently relocated to Los Angeles where he has accepted the position of Professor of Music at the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA. He is also a member of the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music where he has taught since 1997.
In July of 2018, Danielpour’s “The Passion of Yeshua”, a 100-minute passion oratorio in Hebrew and English, commissioned by the Oregon Bach Festival, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and the SDG Foundation, was premiered at the Oregon Bach Festival with JoAnn Faletta conducting. The work was then performed in December at Royce Hall in Los Angeles with the UCLA Philharmonia and Chorus led by music director Neal Stulberg and choral director James Bass. Finally, in April 2019, JoAnn Faletta lead the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus in performances of “The Passion of Yeshua”, where it was recorded by Naxos. The album was released in March of 2020 to critical acclaim and is currently considered for three separate Grammy Awards, including best contemporary classical composition.