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.
February 05, 2013
Imagine what would happen if millions of aliens—industrious, adaptable, and not entirely English-speaking—suddenly landed in the United States and began remaking both themselves, and the country as a whole.
That's essentially what happened during the last two decades of the 19th century and the first two of the 20th, when more than two million Jews left Eastern Europe and came to America in search of a better life. Much extraordinary music resulted from that vast migration, samples of which...
December 05, 2012
Dave Brubeck, one of the best known and loved jazz artists of all time, died today at age 91, just one day shy of his 92nd birthday. In a career that spanned more than six decades, Brubeck was celebrated as a performer, band leader and composer. The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Take Five” is one of the most popular jazz recordings of all time, and Brubeck compositions such as “Blue Rondo a la Turk” and “The Duke” have become jazz standards. Brubeck also composed works that explored the...
November 06, 2012
If you were looking for an alternative title for Volume 9 from the Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience, you could do worse than to borrow a line from the musical satirist Tom Lehrer. "As someone remarked to Schubert," Lehrer once sang, "take us to your lieder."
The lieder to which Lehrer referred are amongst the greatest examples of chamber music ever written: duets for voice and piano featuring German poetry by the likes of Goethe and Schiller, set to music by German Romanti...
September 04, 2012
They played to sold-out crowds across the country, toured internationally, and appeared regularly on the radio. The most popular commanded staggering concert fees, made hundreds of recordings, and drew zealous fans from Jewish and non-Jewish circles alike.
They were the cantors, or hazzanim, of the Golden Age of cantorial music in America, a period that spanned the first half of the 20th century. And while the primary role of these masters of Jewish liturgical song was to lead their congregation...
July 02, 2012
"Music," the noted guitarist and philosopher Jimi Hendrix once said, "is my religion."
It's a fine credo. And as Volume 6 in the Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience demonstrates, it is also a very Hassidic one.
In America, Hassidic Jews are often viewed as the Jewish equivalent of the Amish: religious traditionalists who segregate themselves by custom and dress (black hats, long sidelocks, long black coats).
But when the Hassidic movement first got underway in Eastern Europe...
April 11, 2012
What: Talking about music, it has been said, is like dancing about architecture. But how about painting about music? In Not So Still Life, With Music: The Milken Archive of Jewish Music Presents Paintings by Ralph Gilbert, a series of 20 oil paintings explores a vast repertoire of music reflecting the scope and variety of the Jewish experience in America over the past 350 years. The exhibition is presented in conjunction with the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture’s Violins of...
April 10, 2012
As inspiration goes, it's hard to beat the birth of a nation.
So proves Volume 8 from the Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience. The music presented in Sing Unto Zion! In Praise of a National Jewish Home covers a lot of ground, from original settings of traditional pioneer (ḥalutz) songs to meditations on politics and religion in modern-day Israel. But all of it reflects the profound impact that Zionism and the emergence of a Jewish state have had on the American Jewish imagi...
February 07, 2012
In its newest multimedia volume, The Song of Prayer in Colonial and 19th-Century America, the Milken Archive of Jewish Music tackles the oldest American Jewish music in existence. It is music of the Western Sephardi tradition, a legacy of sacred song that was carried to the shores of colonial America by Jewish immigrants whose own ancestors fled religious persecution in Spain and Portugal.
“Volume 1” also features the music of the 19th century American Reform movement: songs of worship in Ge...
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