Premiere of “On the Threshold of Winter” by Michael Hersch – June 25 at BAM

June 25, 2014, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (Fishman Space)

Feature article on Michael Hersch in the New York Times

BAM webpage with info and tickets link

video interview with Miranda Cuckson about Michael Hersch’s music


Nicholas Cairns

A new monodrama by Michael Hersch, text by Marin Sorescu
“On the Threshold of Winter”

directed by Roger Brunyate

soprano: Ah Young Hong
conductor: Tito Muñoz
violin: Miranda Cuckson
cello: Julia Bruskin
flute: Susan Palma-Nidel
oboe: Arthur Sato
clarinet: Vasko Dukovski
bass clarinet: Benjamin Fingland
piano: Michael Sheppard
percussion: Matthew Gold


Michael Hersch’s newest work is an opera in two acts (ca. 2 hours). Scored for soprano and ensemble of eight, the piece follows the trajectory of Marin Sorescu’s wrenching final work The Bridge, in English translation from the original Romanian. Sorescu [1936-1996], suffering from terminal cancer, wrote The Bridge during a period of barely a month, mostly in hospital, at the end of his life.

Hersch writes:

Completed in 2012, On the Threshold of Winter is my first work for the stage. The search for a text, however, began in earnest much earlier. For various reasons the novels, short stories, plays, biographies, etc., which I had contemplated over the past two decades all in the end proved unworkable to me, primarily due to my own shortcomings. I felt incapable of bringing a musical dimension to each of the works in question. It wasn’t until 2010, when I encountered Adam Sorkin’s and Lydia Vianu’s translation of Marin Sorescu’s devastating last work, The Bridge – which chronicles the final weeks of Sorescu’s unsuccessful battle with cancer – that I knew I had finally found the material I wanted to work with. I did not know of Sorescu before reading this text. I knew nothing of his other work or his history. I simply knew that this slim volume struck and remained with me in unexpected ways.


In the words of co-translator Adam J. Sorkin, “These poems … expressions of doubt, reluctant faith, protest … are a testament not just to human mortality and pain, but to resistance and triumph, a creative transformation of the struggle to accept fate and in the same breath attempt to defy its imminent finality … I suspect though, that there is no way to be immune to the harrowing content, even if one tries. The volume progresses chronologically from the beginning of November 1996 onward. A mere five weeks. Most of the poems are dated, and the inexorable momentum of poem after poem toward Sorescu’s death seems to make the book something like a medieval tableau, a dance of death arranged as a procession of still living poems.”
 (artwork above by Nicholas Cairns)