Jewish Sacred Music for High Holy Days

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Sunday, October 02, 2011

As the Jewish high holidays are celebrated, Kent Tritle shines light on the broad choral repertoire of that tradition. We hear works by Ernest Bloch, Samuel Adler, Yehudi Wyner and Koussevitzky, among others.

Opening this week's show is Pulitzer prize-winning composer Yehudi Wyner's Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs). In a project to compile music of Mizrahi Jews, Lazare Saminsky transcribed the captivating theme in the 1920's. Introduced to Wyner by his father, a prominent composer of Yiddish art songs, the alluring melody had a lasting effect, influencing him into adulthood. We hear the Wellesley College Choir under Susan Davenny Wyner in a stunning performance of this work.

American composer Ernest Bloch was raised in a Jewish household, though his interest in music took precedence over religion in his youth. As the young composer matured, he began to take seriously the idea of composing works in the Judaic tradition. Before composing his monumental work, Avodath Hakodesh (Sacred Service), Bloch spent a year studying synagogue music and sacred texts used for Saturday morning worship. In his Sacred Service for choir, orchestra and baritone soloist, we hear the influences of folk and sacred music on his writing.

Also on this week's celebratory episode, music of Leonard Bernstein, Robert Beaser and others.


Shir Hashirim
Yehudi Wyner
Sacred Music
Wellesley College Choir
Susan Davenny Wyner, director

I think continually of those
Psalm 124
Mah Tovu
, Brother Richard Cragg, cantor
Psalm 146
Samuel Adler
A Prophecy of Peace
The Choral Music of Samuel Adler
Gloriae Dei Cantores
Elizabeth. C. Patterson, director

Sacred Service
Ernest Bloch
The Zemel Choir
London Symphony Orchestra
Geoffrey Simon, director
UK Louis Berkman, Baritone

M’chalkel Chayyim
Taste of Eternity
The Western Wind

Psalm 29
Taste of Eternity
The Western Wind

Eil Nora Alilah
Divine Granduer
The New York Concert Singers
Judith Clurman

Psalm 150
Divine Granduer
The New York Concert Singers
Judith Clurman

Psalm 131 and 133
Camerata Singers (Abraham Kaplan, Director)
New York Philharmonic

Comments [14]

Michael Meltzer

WQXR (and probably, Ms. Lewin) is (are) to be commended for the re-broadcast of this program on the Eve of Yom Kippur.
It was all the more moving for its timing.

Oct. 08 2011 06:13 PM
Carol S. from Mt Vernon, NY

Wonderful program! Thank you for sharing a sample of this long and rich tradition. It seems strange, however, to dedicate an entire hour to the NY Jewish choral music scene without mention of one of our greatest treasures, the world- renowned Zamir Chorale, conducted by Matthew Lazar.

Oct. 05 2011 05:40 PM

I unfortunately fell asleep early in this program, but am gratified to know you played the Bloch Sacred Service! I had the privilege of singing it many, many years ago and absolutely love it! If/when I have time & can hear it on your program online, I will eagerly do so. Thanks for always great programming!

Oct. 05 2011 11:05 AM
Annette from North Bergen, NJ

I'm loving it!

No way to play this in the back of the synagogue on Saturday? LOL!

Thanks. This is quite enjoyable.

Oct. 05 2011 01:29 AM

Would have never expected this. Thank you so much.

Oct. 03 2011 11:36 AM
Barbara from NY

Thank you for putting on something different. Normally I would have to be in the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem on a Friday night to hear this

Oct. 03 2011 06:54 AM
Michael Meltzer

Stunning program, Kent, many thanks. It was particularly gratifying to hear music of Simon Sargon, who unfortunately for us left New York for Texas early in his budding, brilliant career. I can't remember hearing anyone get so much music out of three notes!

Oct. 03 2011 12:02 AM
Benita Ober from Cary, NC

Thank you Kent. What a beautiful way to end the evening. Brought back wonderful memories of the holidays. Hope to hear more. Shalom

Oct. 03 2011 12:01 AM
Cantor Anita Schubert from Manchester, CT

Outstanding program--thank you!!!

Oct. 02 2011 04:49 PM
Gary Ekman from Manhattan NYC

How wonderful to hear Samuel Adler's choral music. An amazing story about young Samuel and his father rescuing music from the choir loft under the eyes of the Nazis.

Oct. 02 2011 09:11 AM
Naomi Adler

What a treat to hear my father's music this morning - thank you!

Oct. 02 2011 08:57 AM

Came across the show while searching for music - great - thanks

Oct. 02 2011 08:04 AM

A mystery, folks: Did music of the synagogue influence music of the later Renaissance and early Baroque? You can hear the teruah shofar sound, the rapidly repeated note, in the repeated note called the trillo in early baroque ornamentation. Here’s a vid of the shofar sound of the High Holy Days:

Here’s Duo Seraphim from Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers. Listen for the teruah/trillo:

Monteverdi might have been familiar with music of the synagogue: He worked alongside Jewish composer/musician Solomon Rossi and Rossi’s sister, the singer called La Europa, at the court of Mantua. And it was not unheard of for Christians in late 16th- and early 17th-century Italy to attend Sabbath services at synagogues. It’s a presumption based on writings of the period. I have no proof that Monteverdi attended shul.

Oct. 02 2011 06:34 AM
Michael Meltzer

Yehudi Wyner's father was Lazar Weiner, who wrote a considerable amount of Hebrew service music as well as art songs. I had the pleasure of meeting him around 1975 or so, he was an elegant and learned man.

Oct. 02 2011 01:49 AM

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