The "Weg-Farben" oratorio, composed in 2013 by Wolfgang Kleber, is a work of almost one and a half hours for Jews, Christians and Muslims.
In the early 1990s on the plaza in front of the Pauluskirche in Darmstadt, there was exhibited the double sculpture Bindung und Kreuzigung (Bond and Crucification) by Igael Tumarkin. This sculpture at that time inspired me to compose Tefilla, an oratorio that explores the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. Tefilla was premiered in 2001 and followed by several repeat performances. But soon I had the desire to compose another oratorio, one that would also include the third mono-theistic religion, Islam.
When in 2012 I was invited to perform on the newly renovated Walcker organ in the German Evangelical Church in Cairo, I discussed my plans to write an oratorio on the three monotheistic world religions with several individuals, always searching for advice and consultation on the not readily accessible subject matter. Based on these conversations – especially the ones with Reinhard Grätz, the head of the German-speaking evangelical congregation in Cairo and entire Egypt – plans were made to premiere such an oratorio at the upcoming 150-year-anniversary celebration of this congregation.
Indeed, on 28 February 2014, part of the oratorio Weg-Farben (Colors Along the Way) was performed in Cairo, sung by young Moslems in a Christian church. The choir of the German University in Cairo (GUC) - trained by Ohoude Khadr from Cairo and Professor Karl Kronthaler from Jerusalem – also sang on 6 June 2014 in Darmstadt at the first complete performance of Weg-Farben.
At the center of the libretto stands the Parable of the Ring from Lessing's play Nathan the Wise. Around this wonderful text that shows a possibility of how the three great monotheistic world religions can get along I placed a number of very different excerpts from the old Holy Scriptures as well as prose and poetry from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam dated up until the twentieth century. I aimed to give a new point of view to these texts by taking them out of their context and creating novel combinations.
The oratorio Weg-Farben intends to show how the deepest underlying questions regarding our way through life are understood similar in these three religions, a point that is elemental to consider before and beyond the differences that exist.
The music constitutes a unifying element for these heterogeneous texts. The four soloists, the choir of four and eight mixed voices, the clarinet, organ, and percussion are used in traditional fashion. The organization of the musical material is influenced primarily by two elements: 1) The algebraic series 1-2-3-5-8-13-21- etc creates a sequence of intervals of 24 steps that are utilized on different pitch levels mainly to form melodies, at times also for the creation of harmonies and as a basis for rhythmic structure. 2) Based on the acoustic phenomenon of Combination-Sounds, I created my own system of "consonant" intervals that shape this composition in both its melodic and harmonic aspects.
The setting of the texts orients itself on both the singable qualities and the flow and rhythm of the language, even though in some parts the listener is exposed to very different texts simultaneously. These are texts that indeed can be considered simultaneously, and their concurrent presentation is intended as a message in itself