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For Choirs and Conductors

Master Class for choirs 

Prof. Jacobson will conduct a rehearsal with the local community or synagogue choir. We will work on developing choral blend through proper tone production, achieving an expressive legato phrasing, as well as other aspects of beautiful choral performance practice.


Ideas for Jewish Repertoire and Programming

where to find Jewish choral compositions and arrangements that are certain to be successful in concert; how to construct a program that entertains, inspires and educates, and has the right shape, length and integrity.


Master Class for Conductors

selected individuals will conduct the group. Prof. Jacobson will offer a constructive critique and helpful hints.


Choral Arranging

How to write an effective choral arrangement of Jewish folkloric material. We will examine selected arrangements and compare them with the original tunes.


Rediscovering the Sacred Music of Salamone Rossi 

In this lecture and reading session we will examine a fascinating collection of early Baroque synagogue motets by Salamone Rossi Hebreo (c. 1570 - c.1630). These beautiful psalm settings are from the only collection of polyphonic music for the synagogue to appear before the nineteenth century. Not merely historical curiosities, these gems are among the most beautiful motets of the period, and will be of interest to conductors of church, high school, college and community choirs.


Salamone Rossi: Performance Practice

We will examine selected motets from Rossi’s collection of 1622 with an eye to what sonic idea the composer had in his mind and how best we can achieve that sound today. We will examine photocopies of the original publication as well as various attempts to transcribe the music for the contemporary performer. We will also compare the Jewish motets to secular and church compositions by Rossi’s contemporaries.


Sacred Bridges

In this lecture and reading session we will trace the common roots and the diverse routes of Christian and Jewish liturgical music. We will address such questions as, “What music might Jesus have chanted?”, “Where did Gregorian Chant come from?”, “Did church musicians ever consciously adopt synagogue melodies, or vice versa?” and “What synagogue music might be appropriate for performance in the church, and vice versa?”



Spain in the Middle Ages was home to one of the most fertile periods of Jewish culture. The rich musical heritage of this “Sephardic” civilization, like its language, Ladino, is an exciting blend of Judaic and Hispanic elements.  The performance of choral works based on these ancient and exotic tunes affords conductors the opportunity to pay simultaneous homage to two exotic cultures. In this session we will read through a number of Sephardic compositions that work exceptionally well in concert settings.


Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms

The Back Story. How and why did Bernstein come to write this work, which has become one of the most frequently performed 20th-century choral works. How is it structured? What are some challenges to the conductor?


Universalism and Particularism in Ernest Bloch’s Sacred Service 

Bloch was the first composer to set to music the liturgy of the synagogue in a form comparable to the great masses written for the Catholic Church. Since the beginnings of Rabbinic Judaism, nearly two thousand years ago, the synagogue service had been chanted monophonically. In 1933, when Ernest Bloch completed his Sacred Service,he became the first composer to create a grand integrated work for chorus and orchestra based on a complete synagogue service. We will explore Ernest Bloch and his Sacred Service and the many intriguing ironies that hover over them.


Tsen Brider: A Russian-Jewish Folksong Becomes a Concentration Camp Requiem.

We will examine several variants of an old folksong about ten brothers who disappear, one by one. We will also compare it with a light-hearted parody created in the 1930s by the American entrepreneur Joseph Green for a Yiddish musical comedy called, Yidl Mitn Fidl (Yidl with his Fiddle). Finally, we will reconstruct and analyze its transformation into a death-song created in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp by choral conductor Martin Rosenberg.

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