Friday, May 30, 2008

ARAMAIC WATCH: Gilgamesh, The Opera - in Syriac:
Bedford composer's works earning international attention
May 29, 2008

BEDFORD — Since a trip to The Netherlands in 2006, Bedford resident and composer John Craton has kept busy. And the work will take him back to The Netherlands this summer for another premiere of an original work.

The work for two guitars and orchestra called “Flowers of Spain” will be premiered July 5 by American guitarists Mark and Beverly Davis and the Dutch orchestra Het Consort. The composer and his wife, Dr. Deborah Craton, plan to attend the concert in The Netherlands.


Craton is a full-time composer who also teaches violin and classical mandolin in a studio at his home.

A Bedford resident since 1984, he began composing music when he was 11 years old. He has composed for artists in the United States, Great Britain, France and Germany.

The composing side has been busy the past several months. Some highlights:


• A commissioned opera, “Gilgamesh,” is the first to be composed in the Syriac language. It is to be presented at a concert by the Townsend Opera Players this fall in Modesto, Calif.

There is a venerable tradition of Gilgamesh in Aramaic, although these sources just preserve the name and get the story completely garbled. Gilgamesh, the monster Humbaba, and the Flood hero Utnapishtim appear as giants in the Book of Giants. And around 600 CE, the Nestorian Syriac writer Theodor bar Qoni mentions Gilgamesh as a contemporary of Abraham. It's good to see that the tradition continues and that, presumably, this Aramaic version will be much closer to the original.