Jericho is a surround-sound piece employing expanded instrumentation, multiple antiphonal effects, narration, and extensive and unorthodox audience participation. It is based on the Biblical account of the Battle of Jericho (Joshua 6), in which the famed walls of Jericho fell down flat. The work was composed over a 17-month period from October 2003 - February 2005, and was premiered April 22, 2005, by the Valparaiso University Chamber Concert Band under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Scott Doebler. The score carries the dedication "to Ted, from whom I learned about risk taking and breakthrough." The composer thanks the administration of Malone University for their generous support of this project by the granting of a sabbatical leave the fall of 2004. This project is also funded in part by a Copying Assistance Grant from the American Music Center.
Compositionally, Jericho makes extensive use of the 15th-century melody "Veni Emmanuel" ("O come, O come, Emmanuel"). It is used to generate motivic ideas, such as the horn and trumpet fanfare figures; it appears as a cantus firmus in the synth bass in the long pedal tones; a three-voice, fifth species harmonization of Veni is used to generate harmonic cycles; and finally it is quoted directly in the last section of the piece as the audience sings the phrase "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."
Several archeological excavations at Jericho (1909, 1957, 1997) have discovered that the mound, or 'tell' of Jericho was surrounded by a great earthen rampart, or embankment, with a stone retaining wall at its base. The retaining wall was some 12-15 feet high. On top of that was a mudbrick wall six feet thick and about 20-26 feet high, or 32-41 feet above ground level. This embankment behind the wall sloped upward to the a third wall surrounding the inner city, whose base was base was some 45 feet above the ground level outside the city and may have been another 12-20 feet high. This is what loomed 60-85 feet above the Israelites as they marched around the city each day for seven days. Excavations in different locations have found the same phenomenon: piles of bricks from the collapsed outer wall formed a ramp against the retaining wall so that the Israelites could merely run up. ("The people went up into the city, every man straight ahead." Joshua 6: 20) But there is more. The German excavation of 1907-1909 found that a short stretch of the outer wall on the north side did not collapse, but was still standing [some 3300 years later!], and that there were houses built against this section of wall. It is quite possible that this is was the location Rahab's house. (Joshua 2: 15). The Biblical account states that Rahab was spared because she hid Joshua's spies and helped them escape. The timing of the probable earthquake that felled the wall, coming as it did on the heels of the seventh march, the blast of the seven ram's horns, and the shout, would seem miraculous enough, but this was apparently a selective earthquake that left the favored house standing.
© Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Jesse Ayers