Elijah:The Jewish Artist in the Western World

Welcome to Elijah: Or The Jewish Artist in the Western World,  an interdisciplinary sacred music drama in the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame, supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The prophet Elijah is a figure of great significance at many levels and in many areas. Reading his epic story in the first and second books of Kings in the Bible allows us to reflect on the religious struggles of the Israelite nation, and on how a man stood stubbornly as the voice and the arm of the Lord.  However, the story is also a wonderful canvas for our reflections and an opportunity for participation in a rich exchange of ideas. Elijah showed us that divine revelation may not come necessarily in the form of a burning bush, but as a soft, inner voice.

During our modern times, the story of Elijah may ask us to investigate how religion is part of the identity of nations and more specifically, how artists can materialize national identity and the revelatory inner voice even as they flow between countries and historical circumstances.

The powerful scenes in the story of Elijah have inspired artists and poets through the ages. One of them, the composer Felix Mendelssohn, may have written the oratorio as a symbol of his own struggle as an innovator in the German musical scene in the 19th century. Furthermore, it may have represented his personal stress and evolution as a Jewish-born artist who converted to Christianity as a child. Therefore, we will follow this thread as we examine also the impact of Jewish artists in the Western world.

Together we will investigate these topics and create a book of images and ideas.  Join us in this experience, and see how you can participate.