There are lots of ways to categorise the pieces I have written: music for Shabbat, High Holidays, psalm settings, interfaith etc.. All of the music can be searched in multiple ways on my main music page.
In the meantime, I have listed my music here according to whether it can be sung as a solo (sometimes as art song), as a duet, in a choral version, or as a round. (more…)
In Jewish scripture and liturgy we are often encouraged to ‘sing to the Lord a new song’. How many times can we sing a song before it’s no longer new? What happens then?
If we like a song, and it becomes part of our regular communal prayer, it can enhance our experience both of prayer, and of community. The downside is that we can start to take a familiar song for granted, and not pay attention to the words, intention or prayerful dimension. For liturgy and prayer, does that mean we should then look for a new tune, or compose a new one? Perhaps. As a composer, I find it spiritually and emotionally nourishing, as well as intellectually stimulating, to write a new setting of prayer book or Biblical text. It renews my engagement with the prayer, its connection to Jewish history, its ideas, its texture, and heart. A skilful musical setting can illuminate meanings old and new, and help us connect emotionally with the words. (more…)
Barchi nafshi et Adonai; v’chol k’ravai et sheim kod’sho. Barchi nafshi et Adonai v’al tishk’chi kol g’mulav. Hasoleiach l’chol avoneichi; harofei l’chol tachaluaichi; Hagoeil mishachat chayaichi hamatreichi chesed v’rachamim;
Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; Who forgives all your iniquity; who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit; who encompasses you with lovingkindness and tender mercies; (more…)
They shall rejoice in Your kingdom, those who keep Shabbat and call it a delight;
The people who sanctify the seventh day, will all be fulfilled and delighted with Your goodness;
And You found pleasure in the seventh day and sanctified it, the most precious of days, You called it, in commemoration of the work of Creation.
There are several popular tunes that people sing to this text on Shabbat, all of them lively and rhythmic. And to fit the irregular line lengths and non-metrical phrases into the metrical musical patterns, words and phrases sometimes land awkwardly, with the wrong syllabic emphasis, or are arbitrarily repeated or disconnected from their grammatical context. As a result, for all the vigour of the music, the meaning and spirit of the actual text can become obscured.
Given that the prayer comes during the Amidah, the intense, intimate sequence of prayers that form a spiritual point of gravity in the morning service, I wanted to explore creating a more introspective musical setting. This also provided an opportunity to bring out some of the yearning that we can feel at Shabbat. Feeling, or generating, unconditional joy or gratitude does not always come easily; it can even seem naïve or insincere in the face of one’s own life challenges or the troubles in the wider world of which we are all too well aware.
So this musical setting reflects some of this ambivalence. (more…)