Since the premiere of Osvaldo Golijov's "St. Mark Passion" in 2000, the Argentinian-born composer has been heralded as one of the most significant composers working today. But it was a 1994 composition, "The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind" for klezmer clarinet and string quartet in which Golijiov says he first recognized himself as a composer.
Golijov grew up in a Jewish household in La Plata, Argentina and moved to Israel before settling in the U.S. 20 years ago. Golijov's klezmer-inspired "Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind" is one of his most distinctively Jewish compositions.
Somewhat surprsingly, the soloist who has performed the work the most is a Methodist from Maryland who had never played klezmer music previously: Todd Palmer. The clarinetist worked closely with Golijov in editing a version of the work for string orchestra.
Palmer is in the Twin Cities this week performing "The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind" with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. In a conversation with Minnesota Public Radio's Karl Gehrke, Palmer says the work has a universal power beyond its Jewish origin.