title: Adijo Kerida (Farewell, My Beloved)

composer: folk (arranger Joshua Jacobson)

publisher: World Music Press

catalogue number: WMP 016

voicing: SATB (div.)

accompaniment: piano

timing: 3:45

language: Ladino

text: traditional

year of arrangement: 1991

recordings: Sepharad 92 (HZ-903)

level of difficulty: moderate

description: It is unclear whether the origin of this song is from ancient Spain or Violetta’s aria “Addio del passato” from Verdi’s La Traviata (1853). Whatever its history, this sad ballad of unrequited love is well known among the Sephardim (Jews who trace their ancestry to medieval Spain) living in the Balkan countries. The Ladino dialect is related to the language spoken by the Jews of Spain before their expulsion by the Inquisition in 1492. In this setting, the piano imitates the sound of a Spanish guitar. The voice parts can be handled easily by most choirs.

 

title: Adon Olam (Master of the Universe)

composer: Kenneth Lampl

publisher: Santa Barbara

catalogue number: SBMP 1194

voicing: SATB , divisi

accompaniment: a cappella

language: Hebrew

text: Synagogue liturgy

year of composition:

timing: 5:10

recordings: Zamir – From Boston to Berlin

level of difficulty: moderate

description: A touching setting of the text, evoking the cosmic sense of the lyrics. Lampl composes in a contemporary style, largely homophonic, with lush chords and lots of divisi (a la Whitaker)..

 

title: Adon Olam (Master of the Universe)

composer: Salamone Rossi

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 982045

voicing: SATB SATB

accompaniment: a cappella

language: Hebrew

text: Solomon Ibn Gabirol

year of composition: 1622 (published)

timing: 2:10

recordings: Rossi

level of difficulty: moderate (8 parts)

description: Salamone Rossi, a Jewish composer working in the Gonzaga court in Mantua at the beginning of the seventeenth century, composed the only substantial collection of polyphonic music for the synagogue to appear before the nineteenth century. “Adon Olam” is a majestic motet in eight parts, utilizing cori spezzati.

 

title: Adon Olam (Master of the Universe)

composer: Robert Stern    

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 991297

voicing: SA

accompaniment: piano (optional handbells)

language: Hebrew

text: synagogue liturgy

year of composition: c. 1990

timing: 3:15

recordings: Naxos 8.559406

level of difficulty: challenging

description: An effervescent setting for women’s chorus of Ibn Gabirol’s liturgical hymn.

 

title: Adonai Ro’i (The Lord Is My Shepherd)

composer: Gerald Cohen   

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 993121 (unison version is 991440)

voicing: SATB (S solo) (or unison)

accompaniment: piano

language: Hebrew

text: Psalm 23

year of composition: SATB version in 2001

timing: 3:45

recordings:

level of difficulty: moderate

description: Originally composed for a friend’s funeral, Cohen’s composition has a sweet and tender quality. It should be sung with lyrical phrasing and delicacy of expression.

 

title: Al HaNissim (For the Miracles)

composer: Dov Frimer (arranged by Joshua Jacobson and Hankus Netsky)

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 991306

voicing: SATB, div

accompaniment: piano (and optional clarinet or full klezmer band)

language: Hebrew

text: liturgy for Chanukah

year of composition: 1989 (arrangement)

timing: 2:10

recordings: Lights

level of difficulty: moderate

description: This joyous setting of a few words from a Chanukah prayer is in a lively “klezmer” idiom. The lyrics thank God for His miracles. The music is not difficult, but does require sustained energy, especially from the basses who are required to sing forte marcato in the top of their register.

 

title: Al Kol Eileh (For All These Things)

composer: Naomi Shemer (arranged by Joshua Jacobson)

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 991450

voicing: SATB

accompaniment: piano (optional French horn)

language: Hebrew

text: Naomi Shemer

year of composition: 1980, arranged in 1993

timing: 2:57

recordings: The Songs of Israel

level of difficulty: moderate

description: Shemer’s bittersweet song, expresses her acceptance and gratitude for life in all its complexity, even as we accept that the bee gives us both its honey and its sting. Bundled here in a medley with “Shir Lashalom.”

 

title: Al Naharot Bavel (By the Rivers of Babylon)

composer: Salamone Rossi

publisher: Broude Brothers

catalogue number: CR 24

voicing: SATB or TTBB

accompaniment: a cappella

language: Hebrew (alternate English)

text: Psalm 137

year of composition: 1622 (published)

timing: 3:15

recordings: Rossi, The Songs Live On

level of difficulty: moderate

description: Salamone Rossi, a Jewish composer working in the Gonzaga court in Mantua at the beginning of the seventeenth century, composed the only substantial collection of polyphonic music for the synagogue to appear before the nineteenth century. “Al Naharot Bavel” is a very expressive lamentation, composed for low voices.

 

title: Ale Brider (All Are Brothers)

composer: folk (arranged by Joshua Jacobson)                              

publisher: World Music Press

catalogue number: 30 (31 is a version for SA chorus)

voicing: SATB, solo any voice

accompaniment: piano (drums and bass may be added ad lib)

language: Yiddish (or English)

text: folk

year of composition: c. 1920

timing: 3:00

recordings: An Hour in the Garden of Eden

level of difficulty: easy

description: This is an Eastern European song of solidarity: originally workers’ solidarity, but it can also be understood in the larger sense of the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of all people. It has a catchy wordless refrain that easily lends itself to audience sing-along.

 

title: Aley Neyri (Rise Up, My Flame)

composer: Chaim Parchi (arranged by Joshua Jacobson)

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 992015

voicing: SATB (div), baritone solo

accompaniment: a cappella

language: Hebrew

text: S. Shalom

year of composition: 1988

timing: 3:10

recordings: Lights

level of difficulty: moderate, somewhat challenging

description: Parchi has created a folk-like modal setting of a children’s poem for Chanukah. the choral version uses pointillist techniques requiring rhythmic precision.

 

title: Amen Shem Nora/ Halleluyah (God's Awesome Name)

composer: folk and Gabai (arranged by Matthew Lazar)

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 982007

voicing: unison choir and tenor solo

accompaniment: piano and tof

language: Hebrew

text: liturgy for Simhat Torah and Psalm 150

year of composition: c. 1980 (arranged)

timing: 3:50

recordings: Seasons of Our Joy

level of difficulty: easy

description: This medley of two lively Sephardic hymns is quite easy for the chorus to learn, but requires an extremely competent tenor soloist and tof (Middle Eastern hand drum) player.

 

title: American Kedushah, An

composer: Alice Parker     

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 993125

voicing: SATB (S and T soli)

accompaniment: a cappella

language: Hebrew and English

text: Sabbath morning service

year of composition: 1999

timing: 10:30

recordings: Jewish Composers in America

level of difficulty: challenging

description: Parker composed this setting on commission from the American Guild of Organists. Other than one traditional Ashkenazic melody (ve’enenu tir’ena), the work is completely original, a lyrical and dramatic setting of the Jewish sanctification of God’s name.

 

title: And the Angels Sing

composer: Ziggy Elman (arranged by Joshua Jacobson and Art Bailey)

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number:

voicing: SATB

accompaniment: piano and clarinet (or swing band)

language: English

text: Johnny Mercer

year of composition: 1938

timing: 3:10

recordings: Jewish Composers in America

level of difficulty: moderate

description: Ziggy Elman, trumpeter for Benny Goodman’s famous band, created this song out of an old klezmer wedding dance, “Der Shtiler Bulgar.” This arrangement follows Benny Goodman’s recording, starting with the swing setting, then moving back in time to the original klezmer tune.

 

title: Arba Mishnayot (Four Mishnayoth)

composer: Andre Hajdu

publisher: IMI

catalogue number: 6031

voicing: SATB (divisi)

accompaniment: a cappella

language: Hebrew

text: Mishnah (Avot 5:10, Shevi’it 1:1, Bava Metsia 5:1, Sanhedrin 10:1)

year of composition: 1987

timing: 5:30

recordings:

level of difficulty: challenging

description: Hajdu is a Jewish Israeli composer who enjoys destroying stereotypes of Jewish Music. This four-movement work is a little gem, at times humorous, at times touching, but always faithful to the chosen texts.

 

title: Arba’a Shirey Mo’ed (Four Festive Songs)

composer: Mordecai Seter

publisher: Modan (originally Mercaz Letarbut)

catalogue number: 129

voicing: SSAATTBB

accompaniment: a cappella

language: Hebrew

text: liturgy

year of composition: 1946

timing: 13:30

recordings: MII-CD-25, The Soul of the Sabbath (HZ-915)

level of difficulty: challenging

description: Seter bases his compositions on traditional Jewish melodies, and treats them in a style reminiscent of Bartok. (First movement: Ana Bekor’eynu, based on a hymn for Yom Kippur, 4:25. Second movement: Ayuma, a hymn for the birth of a daughter, 1:20. Third Movement: Eshet Khayil, based on a Bratslav Hassidic melody for the Friday evening recitation of the hymn (Proverbs 31) in praise of one’s wife, 3:28.  Fourth movement: Adir Kevodo, based on a hymn for Simhat Torah, 3:54)

 

title: Ariel: Visions of Isaiah

composer: Robert Starer

publisher: Hal Leonard

catalogue number: (originally MCA 00128-049)

voicing: SATB, div (solo soprano and baritone)

accompaniment: orchestra

language: English

text: Isaiah

year of composition: 1959

timing: 28:40

recordings: Composers Recordings 612

level of difficulty: challenging

description: A dramatic oratorio based on the prophecies of Isaiah regarding Jerusalem. The work begins with an ominous warning, progresses to condemnation, then comfort and finally rejoicing. Choral parts are challenging but not overly difficult.

 

title: Around the Campfire (medley: Ha-Finjan, Rad Ha-Layla, Zemer Lakh)

composer: folk (arranged by Joshua Jacobson)                              

publisher: World Music Press

catalogue number: 22

voicing: SATB

accompaniment: piano, 2 clarinets, tof

language: Hebrew (alternative English)

text: (Chaim Hefer, Jacob Orland, A. Ben-Ze’ev)

year of composition: 1993 (arrangement)

timing: 3:02 (1:22+0:49+0:51)

recordings: The Songs of Israel

level of difficulty: easy to moderate

description: A medley of three songs using dance rhythms (one waltz and two horahs), sung around the campfire by the early pioneers of the Land of Israel. Quite easy to perform.

 

title: Avinu Malkeynu (Our Father, Our King)

composer: Max Janowski

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 986203

voicing: SATB, T solo

accompaniment: piano (or organ)

timing: 3:20

language: Hebrew

text:  synagogue liturgy

year of composition: 1967

recordings: RCA 77388, Sony 66181

level of difficulty: moderate

description: Janowski’s affinity for the Eastern European styles of synagogue music is apparent in this setting of the penitential prayer, “Avinu Malkeynu” (“Our Father, Our King”). The soloist’s line, in the Aeolian mode, is replete with melismatic ornaments. In the traditional manner, the choir alternatively gives the cantor harmonic support or repeats the main melodic ideas. The keyboard part (piano or organ) is not technically demanding, but is of great interest in its exploration of various colorful modal harmonies.

 

title: Az Ikh Vel Zogen Lekho Dodi (When I Sing, "Come, Sabbath Bride")

composer: folk

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 982079 (982080 is a version for SA chorus)

voicing: SATB div, solo (any voice) or SA

accompaniment: piano

language: Yiddish

text: folk

year of composition:

timing: 2:00

recordings: Zamir: Jewish Voices Return to Poland (VHS)

level of difficulty: moderate

description: This song portrays a rehearsal with a cantor and his choir in Eastern Europe a century ago. The slow “call and response” is followed by a lively Hassidic-style up-tempo “tchiri-bim-bam” niggun.

 

title: Azamer Bishvakhin (I Shall Sing God's Praises)

composer: Joshua Jacobson (based on a Hassidic hymn)

publisher: ECS

catalogue number:

voicing: SATB (div)

accompaniment: piano

language: Aramaic

text: Rabbi Isaac Luria

year of composition: 2000

timing: 8:10

recordings: The Soul of the Sabbath

level of difficulty: challenging

description: This composition is based on a paraliturgical domestic Sabbath hymn, the melody of which is attributed to the Hassidic Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav (1772-1811), and the lyrics of which are attributed to the 16th century Kabbalistic rabbi, Isaac Luria. The goal of this hymn was to bring the human soul into intimate contact with the Divine.

 

title: Ba Mir Bistu Sheyn (I Think You're Pretty)

composer: Sholom Secunda (arranged by Joshua Jacobson and Art Bailey)

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number:

voicing: SATB (saa soli)

accompaniment: piano, clarinet and drum set (or swing band)

language: Yiddish and English

text: Jacob Jacobs and Sammy Cahn

year of composition: 1932

timing: 5:30

recordings: Jewish Composers in America

level of difficulty: moderate

description: This song was originally heard in Secunda’s Yiddish musical, Men Ken Lebn Nor Men Lost Nisht. In 1937 the Andrews Sisters’ version with English lyrics became the number-one song in America. This arrangement incorporates both versions.

 

title: Bat Yiftach (Jephthah’s Daughter)

composer: Charlap, Aharon

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 992012

voicing: satb (solo S and bar)

accompaniment: obbligato horn

language: Hebrew

text: Judges 11

year of composition: 1980

timing: 8:00

recordings: The Dale Warland Singers (American Choral 123)

level of difficulty: challenging

description: This challenging work is a setting of the Biblical tragedy of Jephthah. The story of the warrior’s victory in battle, his triumphal return, the anguish over the realization of his vow, and his daughter’s lament are beautifully portrayed by this master composer.

 

title: Boruch Atoh (Blessed Art Thou)

composer: Solomon Golub (arranged by Joshua Jacobson)

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 991339

voicing: SATB (div)

accompaniment: piano

language: Yiddish (alternate English)

text: Avrom Raizn

year of composition: 1991 arr

timing: 2:39

recordings: Seasons of Our Joy

level of difficulty: easy to moderate

description: A nostalgic look at the festival of Chanukah through the eyes of an aging grandfather. The poignant music is not difficult, but does call for divisi voice parts.

 

title: Boruch Habo (Blessed Who Comes In the Name of God)

composer: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 600670

voicing: SATB

accompaniment: piano or organ

language: Hebrew

text: Psalm 118

year of composition: 1950

timing: 2:39

recordings: Italia!

level of difficulty: moderate

description: An elegant wedding processional by the Florence-born Jewish composer.

 

title: Cantata Ebraica

composer: Carlo Grossi

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 982077

voicing: SATB, T solo

accompaniment: harpsichord (or piano)

language: Hebrew

text: anonymous

year of composition: 1681

timing: 5:30

recordings: Italia!

level of difficulty: easy to moderate

description: This charming “dialogue cantata” was commissioned by the Venetian Jewish confraternity, Shomerim la-Boker, for their annual Hoshana Rabba celebrations. A rare example of Jewish choral music (albeit by a Christian composer) from the Baroque era.

 

title: Canticum Hebraicum

composer: Ludovico Saladin

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 982067

voicing: SATB (solo t, b, and countertenor)

accompaniment: small orchestra

language: Hebrew

text: liturgy

year of composition: c. 1670

timing: 10:00

recordings:

level of difficulty: moderate

description: This anomalous cantata, written to celebrate a circumcision ceremony, was commissioned by a wealthy Jewish family from southern France in the late seventeenth century. It is full of joyous choruses, arias, and dances.

 

title: Chanukah Madrigal (Mi Yemalel) (from "Six Madrigals")

composer: Herbert Fromm

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 990239

voicing: SATB, soprano solo

accompaniment: a cappella

language: Hebrew (alternate English)

text: folk

year of composition: 1951

timing: 1:20

recordings: Lights

level of difficulty: moderate

description: Fromm, the German-American neo-classicist, applies his prodigious skills to this simple Chanukah folksong, transforming it into a charming polyphonic madrigal. The other madrigals in this collection are equally fine!

 

title: Chanukah Variations

composer: Joshua Jacobson

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 982003

voicing: SATB, div (solo S and T)

accompaniment: a cappella (with optional flute)

language: Hebrew

text: Kipnis, L.

year of composition: 1989

timing: 7:00

recordings: Lights

level of difficulty: moderate

description: This humorous romp parodies a traditional children’s Chanukah song, taking it through numerous variations, ranging in style from Beethoven to aleatoric to jazz to barbershop. Moderate difficulty.

 

title: Chichester Psalms

composer: Bernstein, Leonard

publisher: Boosey and Hawkes

catalogue number: LCB 214

voicing: SATB div, SATB soli, boy alto solo

accompaniment: orchestra

language: Hebrew

text: Psalms 108, 100, 23, 2, 131, 133

year of composition: 1965

timing: 18 minutes

recordings: Sony 60595

level of difficulty: challenging

description: By now, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms is probably the best known and most frequently performed Hebrew choral music. Published separately for chorus and piano, the first movement makes an effective stand-alone concert piece, and an excellent program opener. It can be performed with full orchestra (without woodwinds) or in a reduced version for organ, harp and percussion (one player).

Titles A-C  Recommended  Jewish Choral Music