Shamhat, Unheard

Instrumentation unaccompanied female voice + finger cymbals (zills), with notated movement

Vocal Range (high voice) C4 to Ab5

Timing ca. 5’15”

Composed 2016, supported by a project development grant from the British Columbia Arts Council

Poems by Rachel Rose

World Premiere February 17, 2018, Open Space, Victoria, Canada. Heather Pawsey, soprano/Astrolabe Musik Theatre

Performance Note Unheard is a suite of four Song Theatre works which may be performed separately or in any combination.

Programme Notes

Unheard is a suite of Song Theatre works for unaccompanied female voice with notated movement. Poet Rachel Rose has been writing an on-going series of poems in which she gives voice to female characters from literature and mythology who are largely unheard in traditional tellings, usually in favour of the male characters. We hear from these women after they have left their stories, expressing their experience in hindsight and illuminating for us a different perspective while connecting with women’s experience in contemporary times.

Shamhat, the temple prostitute in the ancient Sumerian/Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, plays an active role in the story only in the first two tablets. It is she who, through sacred sexuality, tames the wild man Enkidu, taking him from his life with the animals and introducing him to the civilised world and King Gilgamesh, with whom he would go on to slay various monsters. In Shamhat, Unheard, we hear from Shamhat long after she has left the story, as she takes us back to her past and gives us a vision of her future—our present—realising with regret how her gift to Enkidu did not have the result she had hoped for.

PDF score excerpt

Shamhat, Unheard excerpt

Get music

Store coming soon, after the premiere. Versions for high and medium voice will be available. Meanwhile, please contact me.