Moriel and Zoë met through the 2018-2019 Helix Fellowship, and spent many hours discussing language, art, history, music, Yiddish and more during their time in Belarus.
After hearing Moriel read one of his poems, Zoë composed a draft of original music to accompany the piece. The two began working back and forth on the edits, and decided to expand the project to include a second poem, entitled Kobilnik, and new original song. The poem was written during the 2019 Helix Fellowship itself. They also decided to do professional grade recordings and videos as a way of presenting the two new pieces to the wider public.
“I remember sitting on the banks of a placid lake in central Belarus, a moment of sunshine and stillness, a moment that felt both radiant and haunted: next to me, Zoë was playing her violin to our friends in the distance, to the trees, to something unnamable, intangible, but present. I remember feeling the way time bent around itself, the way in which the past seeped into the present and the present into the past. It was truly a gift to collaborate with a brilliant artist like Zoë Aqua on this project, and to have the spirit of Yiddishkayt, and David Shneer’s beloved memory, with us as we envisioned the contours of this collaboration.”
— Moriel Rothman-Zecher