Israel in Egypt – Spotlight #1

In the coming weeks we’ll ask 3 questions of some key artists whose voices and visions are shaping the production. Get ready to compare and contrast their answers!
Here we begin with conductor Ted Sperling and live illustrator Kevork Mourad:

Spotlight: THE ARTISTS


1. What do you love most about Handel’s Israel in Egypt? 
TS: I think the music is some of Handel’s absolute finest. The instrumental textures are so varied, it’s like he’s painting musical versions of the text. I also love the vocal writing for chorus and soloists – many of the choruses are in eight parts, with essentially two choruses lobbing phrases at each other across the stage, and there are also duets for two sopranos and two basses, which are unusual textures and very appropriate to their moments in the story.

KM: I love the theatricality of the piece. The theme is also so timely. You can see through it how we are not learning from our mistakes. It’s a 3,000 year old story but you can just change the characters, and you realize that the story is happening over and over in this century.

2. What will be your most daunting technical feat for this production?
TS: The skittering violins in that movement about the flies and lice is actually a challenge for the orchestra and me… the notes are flying a mile a minute!

KM: The most important part of my participation is being inspired in the moment by the other performers. My visual medium is not naturally time-based, as music is, so the real feat is to be a hundred percent present with them in order to know when to come out of the mode of free-inspiration and release the pre-made animation that depends on perfect timing to match the music. For example, I create a pyramid through live drawing for a specific amount of time, and that live drawing needs to morph into an existing animation that I created beforehand; once we zoom into that image, the pyramid becomes something unexpected.

3. What is your favorite recording?
TS: The 1995 recording that John Eliot Gardiner made with the Monteverdi Chorus and English Baroque Soloists. Handel’s score leaves many things open to interpretation, as there are few indications of tempi, dynamics or articulations. I think Maestro Gardiner found a way to keep things interesting and lively, with unexpected choices that continue to delight me.

KM: Choir of King’s College because my first exposure to the piece was through that recording and there’s something theatrical in their voice, which allowed me to imagine the piece visually.

Spotlight: THE ISSUES

ISRAEL IN EGYPT tells one of civilization’s earliest displacement stories. In producing this work we could never ignore such a tragic parallel – today more than 68 million people around the world are displaced from their homes. The designs of Kevork Mourad, born in Aleppo in 1970,  are a defiant demonstration of creativity in the face of tragedy. In upcoming emails we will take a moment to acknowledge some of today’s most dire echoes of the Exodus story.

What does it look like for 68 million people to be displaced?

Like over half the population of Japan going homeless. Or everyone in the U.K. fleeing and leaving an empty nation behind them. Or the states of California and Texas slowly draining of human life, until there was only barren land left behind.


Join us at Carnegie Hall on November 28th at 8 pm for this exciting multimedia production of Handel’s Israel in Egypt!

Get Tickets!