Days of Awe and Rejoicing:
Radiant Gems of Jewish Music

September/October 2011

Program Notes

Proglogue: Shalom Aleichem                          

trad. Eastern European, Rabbi Isaac of Vorke

Psalm 112: Hal’luyah, ashrei ish yarei et-Adonai

Salamone Rossi

Im ein ani li mi li?

Robert Applebaum


Joseph Kurland, arr. Max Janowski

Uri Tzafon

Dov Carmel, arr. Yehezkel Braun

Four Motets

Paul Schoenfield
         I. Hateh Hashem ozn’cha aneyni  
         II. Sameach nefesh avdecha  
         III. B’yom tzarati ekra’eka  
         IV. Horeyni darkecha  


Jonathan Miller

Uvashofar Gadol Yitaka

Joel Feig

Reader’s Kaddish: T’filat N’ilah L’Yom Kippur

                              trad. High Holiday Liturgy, arr. Max Janowski

Hava Nagila

Stacy Garrop

Shirim L'Yom Tov (Four Festive Songs

Shulmait Ran
         I. Shiru l’Adonai  
         II. Yom ha-Shishi  
         III. Ma Tovu  
         IV. Hatzneia Lechet  

Ani Ma'amin

                                                        Melody from Vishnietz, transmitted by Elie Wiesel; choral arr. by M. Lazar


trad. Yom Kippur liturgy

Avinu Malkeynu

Max Janowski, arr. Patrick Sinozich

Hal'luyah (Psalm 150)

Louis Lewandowski


trad. Shabbat melody


If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
And if I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?
—Rabbi Hillel
Pirke Avot (Sayings of the Fathers) 1:14

It is with tremendous pleasure and pride that we welcome you to these concerts of Jewish choral music. This program is designed to give you an “immersion” experience in Jewish music written for a cappella vocal ensemble.  We have placed special emphasis on compositions for the celebration of the Days of Awe, also known as the High Holy Days—Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement)—which take place in the early autumn.

Most of today’s texts are in Hebrew, a glorious language for singing.  If one is up for the demands that the aggressive and sometimes guttural Hebrew consonants make on the singer, the vowels are pure and resonant, much like those in Italian. To make the meanings of the songs clearer for you, we’ve provided complete translations here in your program notes. For those of you who have arrived today with some prior exposure to Jewish choral music and liturgy, we hope that this concert will both expose you to some music you may not have heard before and deepen your appreciation of the cultural riches all around us.  For those of you unfamiliar with this tradition, we hope that you will emerge from our concert with a sense of the breadth and depth of Jewish choral music, with the caveat that we can only fit in 90 minutes a narrow slice of all the music that is out there. 

Our musical selections celebrate Jewish liturgical choral music dating from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries. The cantorial melodies that serve as the basis for several of these choral arrangements are likely much older—how old we cannot know. This concert also includes music of our own generation, designed more for choral concert performance than for liturgy but still in keeping with the theme and the tradition. The songs included here have sprung from the intersection of many people, Jewish and non-Jewish, in Europe, America, and Israel.

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For me personally, Judaism is inextricably linked with the worship service, which in turn is connected to singing. As is the case with many of our concerts, this program springs from a personal engagement I have had with these songs—as a singer, listener, conductor, and/or composer—which makes me want to share them with you. I have been personally involved with Jewish music since I joined Judy Maslin’s children’s choir at K.A.M. Isaiah Israel Congregation in Hyde Park during the fall of 1972.  Fast-forward the timeline to 2011, and I am beginning my fortieth very happy year of being immersed in an incredible tradition, a great blessing indeed.

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You might well ask, “How do we get anything called ‘Jewish choral music,’ and under what conditions?” The Jewish mind tends to be a student of history, and a backward look can help to answer this question. The history of Jewish choral music is complicated. Until about 150 years ago, davening (mostly silent prayer by the individual) was the order of the day, where Jews would offer their own prayers to the Almighty, either at home or in a group setting. The group setting might have been in synagogue or in a hidden location, depending on the situation of Jews in a given country or locale. In any event, the praying in such a group is rather informal, often more like murmuring with some mild cacophony. The more melodic exceptions would be places where the prayer leader intones the opening of a prayer or chants the chatimah (concluding lines), which often end with a blessing, or the occasional congregational song such as Adon Olam or a prayer such as Aleinu.  Shabbat (the Sabbath) is typically a time when a number of memorable melodies are sung in unison by the assembly.

Jewish choral music has arisen in specific circumstances. The evidence from ancient times suggests that Jews had created a flourishing musical scene at the Temple under King David (roughly in the ninth century BCE). Psalm-singing was clearly an important part of Temple ritual, as we learn from Marsha Bryan Edelman’s terrific book Discovering Jewish Music (2003). Indeed, Levites who had served five-year apprenticeships were by age 30 the carriers of antiphonal singing, a practice which survives today in the congregational call-and-response chanting of Ashrei yoshvei veitecha and other psalms.

The beloved Temple has suffered the tragedy of being destroyed not once but twice, with the destruction of the Second Temple occurring in the year 70 CE. Although the rabbis immediately banned both instrumental and choral singing in the wake of this event, choral music did regain a place in synagogue liturgy over time. There is a longstanding hope that the Temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem, at which point—one assumes—not only choral music but instruments too would reclaim their role in worship. Jews of many stripes have refrained from having instrumental music in worship services, out of reverence for the memory of the Temple, a practice still observed in Orthodox congregations and in many Conservative ones as well.  One result of this history is that much of the Jewish choral music created under such circumstances has been a cappella.

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As soon as composers were actively encouraged by rabbis to begin creating choral-music liturgies, the practice took off. This happened in two remarkable communities during the Common Era. The first was around the year 1600, in northern Italy, at the flourishing of the High Renaissance, when Salamone Rossi was active. The second can be considered the source for the ongoing stream of our current Jewish choral life, namely the great German synagogues of the 1840s. Louis Lewandowski began that decade by becoming the first modern-era “Jewish choir director” at two synagogues in Berlin. He was also the first Jew permitted to study at the Berlin Academy of the Arts. He and his mentor, Salomon Sulzer, began composing complete choral liturgies, many of which incorporated traditional cantorial chant (called nussach). The melodies were a mix of material from the Old Synagogue tradition and from Eastern European tunes that Lewandowski learned from immigrant cantors; the tunes were often simplified in Lewandowski’s settings, as this was an era when some felt that overly florid cantorial solo renditions needed to be reined in.

Sulzer’s solo melodies have come to dominate the Saturday morning service in particular in many synagogues.  While Sulzer’s renown came from his beautiful singing, Lewandowski was more of a true choral musician.  Jewish choral music took a large step in the direction of mainstream European music when the Oranienburgerstrasse Temple (Reform) was built in 1864 with an organ, allowing Lewandowski and others to write and perform accompanied sacred Jewish choral music for the first time. Never before had a Jewish composer been given the opportunity to compose a complete choral liturgy with organ. Unfortunately, this new tradition had less than a hundred years to take root and flourish before the Third Reich destroyed most of European Jewry. Hitler’s forces eliminated the synagogues, assets, writings, communities, and lives of six million Jews.

With the dual forces of assimilation and the Holocaust threatening to wipe out any oral tradition of liturgical melody, a deliberate and visionary effort was made in America during the mid-20th century to find ways to preserve such melodies in new musical compositions. Nurtured by the Reform rabbinate in the USA, an effort of “creative retrieval” (a term I learned from Rabbi Herbert Bronstein) strongly encouraged the work of Samuel Adler and a few others, carefully nurtured by the denomination through commissions and placement in important synagogues. We Chicagoans have been fortunate to have had such a master in our own midst, Max Janowski. While somewhat isolated stylistically and geographically from the East Coast, Janowski managed to create his own strong and clear musical language, firmly grounded in a deep knowledge of nussach and Torah and based on his own prodigious keyboard technique. Janowski came to dominate the liturgical life of Chicago’s Jewish community for fifty years; his music still holds remarkable sway twenty years after his death. (His haunting a cappella High Holiday liturgy for Conservative synagogues is mostly preserved in unpublished manuscript, such as the Reader’s Kaddish from the N’ilah service and his arrangement of the Hineni on this concert.)  One has to look to the output of post-Vatican II Catholic music by the late Richard Proulx—also a Chicago icon—to find a composer of similar dominance during a time of great change and growth in liturgical worship music.

Choral music is often a sign of thriving culture. Jewish choral music is now alive and well, from American and European congregations and stages to the thriving choral scene in Israel. Matthew Lazar (New York), Joshua Jacobson (Boston), Stephen Glass (Montreal), Richard Cohn (Chicago and now Dallas) and others have galvanized the Jewish choral movement in North America, one that happily crosses denominational boundaries. Across the Atlantic, even the Ethiopian Jews who have settled in Dimona, in the south of Israel, have their own remarkable tradition of call-and-response choral music.

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The High Holidays are a time for t’shuvah, translated as “repentance” but more poignantly also as “turning.”  We turn from our usual habits and reflect on how we can make the next year a better, more just, more loving one for ourselves and the world. Max Janowski used to say in rehearsals that “atonement is really at-one-ment”:  if your confession and forgiveness are sincere, then you become at one with God. 

Because a number of songs on this program are drawn from High-Holiday liturgy, with texts that focus on divine majesty and on the need for atonement, there are many moments of deep gravity. However, there are lighter moments as well. One that may come as a surprise is the community confessional prayer, Ashamnu, which traditionally is sung on Yom Kippur by the entire congregation, several times during the day. The whole prayer is sometimes sung in a surprisingly lively manner, given the subject matter. I think the reason for this is that, in contrast to Christian confessional, which sometimes is done in the singular narrative voice, the Jewish confessional is done as a group and in the plural. There is something I find particularly cleansing about group confession, for it helps us to realize that we all share the yeitzer ha-rah, the inclination to do evil, as well as the yeitzer ha-tov, the inclination to do good. The idea is that if any of us has done this thing, then as a people we all have done it.

We owe a tremendous, unrepayable debt to those who have gone before and who gave up much so that this tradition might continue. May our debt to them, along with our gratitude at being able to preserve and share the dignity and joy of these songs and prayers, inspire us all to acts of righteousness, deeds of loving-kindness, and lives of true compassion this day and always.

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This program was initially presented in the Chicago area in the fall of 2007.  Thanks to the overwhelming response to that program, including the financial generosity of two key supporters, we are able not only to repeat this program for you today but also to release a studio CD recording of the same repertoire on the Chicago a cappella Records label.  I wish to thank the talented musicians who worked so hard on this concert and on the accompanying recording—especially Music Director Patrick Sinozich, a true champion of excellence, whose tireless work behind the scenes helped to ensure that our new CD would be an offering of sonic beauty. I also wish to thank my beloved, longtime colleagues in worship, Rabbi Elliot Gertel and (recently retired) Cantor Julius Solomon of Congregation Rodfei Zedek in Chicago. Their love of high-quality Jewish music have nurtured this special tradition for decades and have inspired me repeatedly in my own work. May each of you go from strength to strength.

Jonathan Miller
Founder and Artistic Director


Traditional Eastern European, attrib. Rabbi Isaac of Vorke, ed. Vinaver: Prologue: Shalom Aleichem

This setting of a familiar Shabbat text comes from the oral tradition of East European Jewry, as transcribed from memory by the scholar Chemjo Vinaver. The chant appears in Vinaver’s Treasury of Jewish Music, which is a valuable printed resource for tunes not documented elsewhere. In this tradition, Shalom aleichem would typically move right into the Eshet chayil prayer (“A woman of valor, who can find?”) and then into the Kiddush, the prayer over the wine.

Salamone Rossi: Psalm 112: Hal’luyah, ashrei ish yarei et-Adonai

Perhaps because of his sheer talent, the musician Salamone Rossi of Modena managed to achieve a status and privilege denied to most Jews. Rossi was given a ducal exemption in 1606, allowing him to refrain from wearing the yellow “Jew badge” that all other Jews were required to wear at that time. At the same time, there was a movement within the Italian Jewish community to bring polyphonic choral music into the synagogue. The leader of the movement was a liberal interpreter of scripture, Rabbi Leo of Modena. Rabbi Leo argued in print that polyphonic music was permitted in synagogue. In 1623 Rossi’s landmark collection, Ha-Shirim asher li-Shlomo (literally, “The Songs that Are of Solomon”), was finally published. This collection is a monument in music publishing as well as in repertoire. The invasion of Mantua by Ferdinando II in 1630 resulted in the expulsion of almost 2,000 Jews from the city, a military event in which Rossi likely perished. Thus ended in one stroke the flourishing of choral polyphony in the Hebrew language for the next 200 years.

This double-choir setting of Psalm 112 is joyous and almost madrigalian in its aesthetic. The style is clearly indebted to the secular Italian madrigal in general and to the double-choir motets of the Gabrielis from Venice in particular.

Robert Applebaum: Im ein ani li mi li?

Robert Applebaum has made a lasting contribution to choral music both within and outside the Jewish realm. His talents as a composer are familiar to longtime Chicago a cappella audiences;  his music appears on two of the group’s previous CD recordings. In 1980, he began composing choral music for the Jewish liturgy. Since then, he has written three complete Sabbath services, including one for choir and jazz trio. Applebaum has composed choral settings of many psalms as well as secular texts. His music has been published by E.C. Schirmer, Opus Music and Transcontinental Music. This setting of Rabbi Hillel’s timeless words—“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”—is poignant and dramatic at the same time.

Joseph Kurland, arr. Max Janowski: Hineni

Early in the afternoon “additional” or Musaf service on both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur comes this stirring prayer, featuring dramatic, powerful, personal words. The deep humility of the poem lends gravity and seriousness of purpose to the whole proceeding, in keeping with the theme of the Days of Awe. There are many tunes to this text; this one is by Chicago musician Joseph Kurland, with a choral a cappella accompaniment by Max Janowski suitable for use in Conservative worship.

Dov Carmel, arr. Yehezkel Braun: Uri Tzafon

The Israeli composer Dov Carmel, who has composed in most major classical musical genres and film music, has received accolades in Israel and abroad for his work. His tune “Uri Tzafon” has been arranged for choir by Yehezkel Braun, who has lived in Israel since 1924 (when he was two) and has become one of that country’s foremost musicians, winning the Israel Prize for Music in 2001.

Paul Schoenfield: Four Motets

Paul Schoenfield has made a splendid contribution to the field with his Four Motets, which are unusually sensitive to the penitential nature of the texts. Schoenfield, a native of Detroit, began studying piano at age six and wrote his first composition in the following year. He eventually studied piano with Julius Chajes, Ozan Marsh, and Rudolf Serkin. A man of many interests, he is also an avid scholar of mathematics and Hebrew. He held his first teaching post in Toledo, Ohio, lived on a kibbutz in Israel and was a free-lance composer and pianist in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Although he now rarely performs, he was formerly an active pianist, touring the United States, Europe, and South America as a soloist and with groups including Music from Marlboro. Among his recordings are the complete violin and piano works of Bartók with Sergiu Luca. His compositions can be heard on the Angel, Decca, Innova, Vanguard, EMI, Koch, BMG, and the New World labels. Mr. Schoenfield and his family currently have homes in Israel and the United States.

The Four Motets cycle was written in 1995, commissioned by a consortium of choruses that included Chanticleer, the Dale Warland Singers, the Phoenix Bach Choir, and La Vie. The text comes from Psalm 86, with a style the composer calls “neo-Renaissance.” The vocal lines sing themselves unusually well for modern music, and the composer’s feel for counterpoint—harmony created by independent melodies—is superb.

Notes from the composer on the text of each movement:

In the first motet, the psalmist refers to his deprivation, which is a paucity of good deeds, in spite of which the psalmist seeks divine acceptance. The anticipation itself is an utterance of service. . . . the “dedicated” one comprises aspects of the Divine in his or her character. The dedicated person is altruistic, does not advance his or her own cause, but rather cares for others.

The second motet is concerned with “the joy of the soul.” This joy, the emotion of the soul as it increases its righteous and transcendental strength, does not require outside conditions. It is achievable when one discovers the strength to endure travails with composure.

The third motet alludes to the main concept of Psalm 86. The psalmist says, “In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, so that You will answer me,” like an offspring who is comforted by the closeness of a parent.

In the fourth motet, a plea appears: “make my heart one,” or, rein in my impulses so that I am afraid of nothing but the chance of abusing the holiness due Your Name. Sometimes, one is of “two hearts.” Here, the psalmist appeals for assistance in walking the course of sanctity.

Jonathan Miller: Shehecheyanu

This piece was written in 2000 to honor the dedication of the new sanctuary at Congregation Rodfei Zedek in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. The composer served Rodfei Zedek as choir director for the high holidays (1998-2009) and occasional prayer leader for Kabbalat Shabbat services before serving as high-holiday cantor starting in 2010.  Traditionally, this text is recited or sung when something is done for the first time (celebrating the first night of Chanukah, for example).  The dedication of a new building was an ideal occasion for this prayer. The composer writes, “Composing Shehecheyanu literally came to me as I was walking down the street, and the rhythm of my feet on the pavement gave rise to the quarter-note pulse for the melody.”

Joel Feig: Uvashofar Gadol Yitaka

Joel Feig’s dramatic composition “Uvashofar Gadol” for cantor and choir is a stunning piece of liturgical theatricality, bringing home the theme of Yom Kippur as the Day of Judgment. Feig was involved as a choir director in several Yiddish films created in New York during the 1930s. The piece was championed for many years by Cantor Julius Solomon of Congregation Rodfei Zedek in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, who hails originally from Brooklyn and brought the piece with him to Chicago.

Traditional chant, arr. Max Janowski: Reader’s Kaddish: T’filat N’ilah L’Yom Kippur                    

Having fled Nazi Germany for a piano professorship in Japan, Max Janowski made his way to New York and shortly thereafter to Chicago, where he had won the composition contest whose first prize was the position of director of music at KAM Temple on the South Side. Max served KAM from his appointment in 1938 until his death in 1991, a remarkable run of 53 years. His legendary collaboration with Rabbi Jacob J. Weinstein helped inspire Max to revolutionize Jewish worship music in Chicago, which upon his arrival consisted mostly of Protestant hymns with Hebrew words. Writing in a new musical idiom based on cantorial chant (nussach), Janowski trained hundreds of aspiring and accomplished singers, providing choirs for KAM and many other synagogues on the High Holidays. Among his soloists at KAM were future Met stars Sherrill Milnes and Isola Jones, and other superb local singers such as tenor Kurt Hansen and contralto Beatrice Horwitz. An ecumenical spirit, Max also served the All Souls Universalist Society in South Shore for several decades, playing the organ, conducting a small choir, and arranging music from folk songs to spirituals.

The Reader’s Kaddish is, like most Kaddish prayers, a marker of a transition point in the service. It differs in function from the more familiar Mourner’s Kaddish. Here is the Reader’s Kaddish for the final service of the Yom Kippur liturgy, N’ilah.  This Reader’s Kaddish carries a unique melody, associated closely with this closing service, where it also appears in the Amidah (silent prayer).  The haunting line makes ever poignant the sense that the heavenly gates at the end of the High Holidays. Janowski’s feel for nussach comes to the fore in this simple setting of great introspective power and majesty.

Stacy Garrop: Hava Nagila

A composer creating music of great expressive power and masterful technical control, Stacy Garrop has received several awards, commissions, and grants, including the 2006/2007 Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble’s 2006/2007 Harvey Gaul Composition Competition, the 2005 Raymond and Beverly Sackler Music Composition Prize, 2005 and 2001 Barlow Endowment commissions, Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 1999-2000 First Hearing Composition Competition, Omaha Symphony Guild’s 2000 International New Music Competition, and the New England Philharmonic’s 2000 Call for Scores Competition. Chicago a cappella is fortunate to have been able to commission her in 2007-08 for this rollicking Hava Nagila as well as a beautiful setting of the Jewish melody Lo Yisa Goy (which we have recorded for Cedille Records).  Her association with Cedille Records has continued with the release of Ars Poetica on “The Billy Collins Suite” CD, and an all-Garrop CD released in the fall of 2010.

Based on the most recent research available, it appears that the tune for Hava Nagila was a 19th-century niggun, or wordless melody, from the Chasidim in the Ukrainian village of Sadigora.  In a lyric-writing contest, Moshe Nathanson won the prize, which was having his words associated with the tune for a public celebration of Allenby’s victory in Palestine in 1917.

Shulamit Ran: Shirim L’Yom Tov (Four Festive Songs)

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Shulamit Ran was born in Israel, where she began composing songs to Hebrew poetry at the age of seven. She formerly performed extensively as a pianist in the U.S., Europe, Israel and elsewhere, and is presently the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Music at the University of Chicago, where she has taught since 1973. She is also artistic director of Contempo, formerly the Contemporary Chamber Players. She lists her late colleague and friend Ralph Shapey, with whom she also studied in 1977, as an important mentor. Truly a world-class composer, Ms. Ran holds several honorary doctorates and was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1992 and of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2003. Her works are published by the Theodore Presser Company and by the Israeli Music Institute. Recent premieres include Fault Line for ensemble, commissioned by the Chicago Symphony MusicNOW series, premiered in May, 2006 at Chicago’s Symphony Center; and Credo/Ani Ma’amin, part of And on Earth, Peace: A Chanticleer Mass, commissioned and widely performed by Chanticleer, the noted 12-man vocal ensemble, following its premiere in New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in April, 2007. Recordings have been released on more than a dozen labels, including Albany, Angel, Bridge, Centaur, CRI, Erato, Koch International Classics, New World, Vox, and Warner Classics, with several all-Ran discs available.

About Four Festive Songs, the composer writes:

My four songs were composed in 2003 and 2005, two at a time, for the Bar Mitzvah occasions of my two sons, David and Yaron Lotan, for Koleynu, the enthusiastic, amateur choir of Beth Shalom Congregation in De Kalb-Sycamore, Illinois, where our family resides.  Koleynu is directed by Harvey Blau, a Professor of Mathematics at Northern Illinois University. The texts were extracted by me from my sons’ Torah and Haftarah portions – the biblical passages a Bar Mitzvah celebrant learns to chant, and comments on, as part of becoming an “adult” member of the congregation. I was filled with a sense of awe and joy upon discovering, both times, that the texts were amongst the most pivotal of biblical texts: from the story of creation – sixth day, to passages such as Ma Tovu (‘How fair are your tents…”) and Hatzneia Lechet (“and to walk humbly with thy God”). This made composing these songs all the more exhilarating for me. Yet it must be said that whenever I am present at a Bar Mitzvah and hear the 13-year old celebrant’s commentary (or D’var Torah), I am struck anew by the realization that even the most seemingly dry of biblical passages, such as the enumeration of laws or listing of generations, contains in it the seeds of great and eternal wisdom and inspiration.

(Note: The weekly Torah portion read on Saturday morning, when Bar and Bat Mitzvah services are held, is called the Parashat Hashuvah, or portion for the week, and each Parashat has a name.  The Haftorah is a segment of scripture that is read as an accompaniment to the weekly Torah reading, and it carries the same name as the Torah portion.)

These songs are infectious and lively, displaying a refreshingly deft feel for Hebrew and superb rhythmic life. Shiru l’Adonai has the feel of a joyous processional. Yom ha-Shishi (The Sixth Day) has a jaunty, friendly character almost like a nursery melody in the best sense—memorable and wedded superbly to the words which describe God’s completion of creating the world. Ma Tovu feels both old and new, evoking medieval music as well as Bartók. Concluding the cycle, Hatzneia Lechet seems to illustrate musically the sense of walking humbly—sometimes haltingly—before opening up in majestic, ringing chords at certain powerful statements of the words “im Elohecha” (“with your God”).

Melody from Vishnietz, transmitted by Elie Wiesel; choral arr. by M. Lazar: Ani Ma’amin

This setting comes to us from Matthew Lazar, the tireless founder and artistic director of the Zamir Choral Foundation, the powerhouse of Jewish choral music in the eastern United States and abroad.  Mati Lazar has lovingly and sensitively set in choral form a Chassidic version of the “Ani ma’amin” prayer that Elie Wiesel brought to these shores from his homeland of Vishnietz in Transylvania.  Wiesel himself stole the show when he sang the solo at the May 2004 performance of this piece by the Zamir Chorale in New York City. A more familiar tune to these same words became known as the song that many Holocaust victims sang as they went to their deaths in concentration camps.  The text is a prosaic adaptation of the writings of Maimonides, the great medieval Jewish scholar and commentator, on the thirteen points of Jewish faith.

Traditional Yom Kippur liturgy: Ashmanu

The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters. The confessional prayer enumerates one sin for each of the letters of the alphabet (and two extras for the final letter), for a total of 24. The idea at work here is that everyone has done something wrong—nobody is blameless, we all make mistakes—and that in a group, surely all 24 sins would have been covered at least once. Hence, in part, the light tone of the prayer, especially of the wordless chorus.

Max Janowski, arr. Patrick Sinozich: Avinu Malkeynu

Max Janowski’s best-known work, “Avinu Malkeynu,” was originally scored for solo, choir, and organ. For some people, this song has come to symbolize the solemnity of Yom Kippur almost as much as the Kol Nidre chant itself. Patrick Sinozich has created a masterful a cappella version of this composition, filling in the organ harmonies much as Max taught singers to do in settings where unaccompanied choral liturgies are required, such as Conservative synagogues.

Louis Lewandowski: Hal’luyah (Psalm 150)

Details about Lewandowski’s career can be found in the introductory notes. He published a monumental collection in 1882 titled Todah v’Zimrah (Thanks and Song), for cantor, four soloists, and organ. He also published more than a dozen psalm settings, of which this is one.

Traditional Shabbat melody: Kiddush

As with the opening “Shalom Aleichem,” this Eastern European melody was collected by Chemjo Vinaver.  Though joyful in its own way, especially its rhythmic quickness, this melody is more somber than the major-mode version familiar to many American Jews.  Its pensive melodic character heightens the sense of holiness—of being set apart—that the Sabbath creates.