Azariah: Whom Jehovah HelpsListen to Fallen Tree
Participatory storytelling and shape note singing with companion artists' book. MFA Thesis show. Performed at the Old Songs Community Art Center, Voorheesville, NY on March 4, 2006.
The story, words, and music for Azariah: Whom Jehovah Helps was written by Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg. Jesse designed the Azariah tunebook. The tunebook was printed by Digital Page in Albany and was bound by Jesse, Shira Chess, and Bethany Wright. Jesse designed Azariah event and performed the role of Azariah and singing master during the event.
Azariah: Whom Jehovah Helps is a spirited journey through 19th-century rural New York. On March fourth at the Old Songs Community Art Center in Voorheesville, NY, the tale of Azariah was told through participatory singing.
Set in the "burnt-over district" in late 1844 (so-called because there was no more "fuel left to burn," meaning "people left to convert"), the story follows a young man named Azariah, a member of the Millerite sect, that believed Jesus would return to earth by October 22, 1844. After the prophecy failed, during the "Great Disappointment" that followed, Azariah begins to have visions in which he encounters mysterious prophets, who speak to him through song.
These visions are contained in nine songs, and a series of interstitial texts. all bound together in a tunebook designed, printed, and hand-bound for the performance. Embodying Azariah, Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg delivered these interstitial texts and led the assembled participants in some singing exercizes and in singing the nine songs contained in the tunebook.