October 07, 2014
Prayer in Judaism is perhaps best understood as both a natural and a highly developed mode of communication with God—both an act of faith and an expression of one’s inner spirituality. Thus, it should come as no surprise that virtually every period and community in the recorded history of Judaism has offered fresh contributions to the forms, types, and styles of prayer, as well as to its musical counterparts. With the latest installment to the Cycle of Life in Synagogue and Home(Volume 4 of...
August 04, 2014
When the Editorial Board of the Milken Archive began deliberations about a volume on orchestral music of Jewish spirit, they had no idea how “voluminous” it would turn out to be. Later, when recording sessions began, musicians and conductors were equally surprised at the number of high-quality, Jewish-themed orchestral works—many by major American composers—that had been created. Looking back with the 20/20 vision that hindsight allows, it’s equally surprising that many of them fell mo...
April 01, 2014
Is it too obvious to begin a discussion of an album of Passover music with the question: What makes this album different from all others? The newest release from the Milken Archive of Jewish Music contains a compelling mix of old and new, known and obscure musical settings pertaining to the Passover holiday. As part of the series Cycle of Life in Synagogue and Home: Prayers and Celebrations Throughout the Jewish Year (Volume 4), the collection highlights the nature of a holiday that is playful a...
March 04, 2014
If you’re in the midst of planning a wedding you’ve probably already started thinking about one of the occasion’s most important components: music. And not just the klezmer band to kick off the party after the crushing of the glass, but music during the ceremony to accompany the processionals and the lighting of candles, to segue between different parts of the ceremony. The freylakhs and bulgars—and, of course, the hora—are a lot of fun and should by no means be dismissed, but often it...
January 07, 2014
A singing of angels.
That's the title of one of two works by composer Charles Davidson that you'll find in Volume 20 from the Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience. And it's also an apt description of what you'll encounter throughout this collection of pieces featuring the voices of children.
The sound of children's voices has been a part of Jewish music for millennia. Young boys sang in the choruses of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, and in the synagogue choirs that flouris...
November 04, 2013
Few Jewish holidays generate as much good cheer among Jews and non-Jews alike as Hanukka. And it's easy to see why: The Festival of Lights has it all, from fried treats and fun props (donuts and dreidels, anyone?) to some of the best songs of the holiday season.
Those songs appear in many guises in the latest offering from the Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience. This double-album set of Hanukkah music is the first installment in Volume 4, which covers the vast trove of music...
September 03, 2013
Get ready for a heavy dose of soul music. Jewish soul music, that is.
That's one way, at least, of looking at Volume 3 from the Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience. SEDER T’FILLOT (literally, "order of the prayers") is devoted to the musical soul of the Jewish people: the prayers that for millennia have been central to Jewish spirituality.
Music has always been a vital part of Jewish worship, and for good reason. Rabbis who long ago established the order and content of th...
July 02, 2013
Go big, or go home.
That could well be the unofficial motto of Volume 17 from the Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience. The Archive, which marks the release of the 17th of its 20 volumes on July 2nd, contains plenty of works with a dramatic component, from Yiddish musicals to full-blown operas. But if it's spectacle and grandeur and sheer artistic ambition you're after, Odes and Epics: Dramatic Music of Jewish Experience is the place to find it.
"Spectacle" is one of many term...
May 07, 2013
The subject of Volume 18 from the Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience may be secular Jewish choral art in America, but the story behind the selections goes deeper than that.
A lot deeper.
The history of Jewish choral music stretches back to antiquity. Some of the earliest Jewish music was performed by choirs of Levites at the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. The psalms they sang inspired liturgical music by Jewish and Christian composers for millennia to come.
Yet secular Jew...
March 05, 2013
Can one fashion art from unspeakable evil?
That conundrum lies at the heart of Volume 19 from the Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience. And it is one with which many American Jewish artists have wrestled.
"Is it possible to write songs about Auschwitz, or, even more important, is it permitted to do so?" composer Gershon Kingsley asks in the spoken narration to Voices from the Shadow, a collection of songs based on poetry written by Holocaust victims and survivors.
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