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Titles N-R  Recommended Jewish Choral Music

title: Ocho Kandelikas (Eight Little Candles)

composer: Flory Jagoda (arranged by Joshua Jacobson)           

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 982015 (SA version is 982070)

voicing: SATB (or SA) with alto solo

accompaniment: piano or guitar, percussion ad lib

language: Ladino

text: Flory Jagoda

year of composition: 1990 (arrangement)

timing: 3:10

recordings: Zamir 25

level of difficulty: easy

description: Flory Jagoda’s “Ocho Kandelikas” (Eight Little Candles) paints a picture of the Chanukah ceremonies she remembers from her childhood in Yugoslavia. The piano/guitar accompaniment is very simple (there are only two chords), but the singers are encouraged to add to the fun with various percussion instruments (shakers, tambourines, hand-drums, etc.).


title: Papir Iz Dokh Vais (Paper Is So White)

composer: folk (arranged by Joshua Jacobson)                              

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 982014

voicing: TTBB with T solo

accompaniment: a cappella (optional piano)

language: Yiddish

text: folk

year of composition: 1985 (arrangement)

timing: 3:05

recordings: Songs of Love

level of difficulty: moderate

description: This Yiddish love song from Eastern Europe has been given a lush Brahmsian male-chorus setting.


title: Prayer Before Sleep (from Talmud Suite)

composer: Sid Robinovitch

publisher: Alfred

catalogue number: VEI1091

voicing: SATB (divisi)

accompaniment: a cappella (keyboard for rehearsal only)

language: Hebrew (with alternate English lyrics)

text: Babylonian Talmud

year of composition: 1986 (published)

timing: 3:30


level of difficulty: moderate

description: The composer writes “the music is solely a response to an ancient and still very much living tradition through the heart and mind of a modern reader.”


title: Prophecy of Peace, A

composer: Samuel Adler

publisher: Alfred (Lawson Gould)

catalogue number: LG52655

voicing: SATB (divisi)

accompaniment: a cappella (keyboard for rehearsal only)

language: English

text: The Bible—Micah 4:1-4

year of composition: 1993 (published)

timing: 3:20


level of difficulty: moderate, some challenging passages

description: This setting of the escatological text from the prophet Micah uses melodic material based on the traditional Jewish cantillation of that text. The language is remeniscent of Copland's "In the Beginning," ranging from unison passages to 2-part counterpoint, shifting triadic harmonies, extended chords and a brilliant ending in C-major.


title: Psalm 20

composer: Charles Osborne

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 982029

voicing: SATB (solo soprano)

accompaniment: piano

language: Hebrew

text: Psalm 20

year of composition: 1991

timing: 6:45

recordings: Zamir 25

level of difficulty: moderate, somewhat challenging

description: Osborne dedicated this work to the memory of Leonard Bernstein, and Bernstein’s presence can felt not only in the soaring melodies, but in some carefully hidden quotations from West Side Story.


title: Psalm 23

composer: Elana Katz-Chernin

publisher: Boosey & Hawkes

catalogue number:

voicing: SATB 

accompaniment: piano (with optional flute or violin)

language: Hebrew

text: Psalm 23

year of composition: 2006



level of difficulty: moderate 

description: Commissioned by the Sydney (Australia) Jewish Choral Society


title: Psalm 114

composer: folk (arranged by Joshua Jacobson)

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 982004

voicing: unison choir

accompaniment: a cappella

language: Hebrew and Latin

text: Psalm 114

year of composition: (arranged in 1984)

timing: 3:40

recordings: Italia!

level of difficulty: fairly easy

description: This work juxtaposes two renditions of Psalm 114, both in plainchant. One is the “tonus peregrinus” Gregorian chant, the other is a Jewish chant from North Africa. The remarkable similarity of the two traditions points to a common origin in pre-Christian Jerusalem. The work may be performed by alternating choirs or by a soloist alternating with a choir.


title: Psalm Verses (Eighteen Canons)

composer: Yehezkel Braun

publisher: Israel Music Institute

catalogue number: IMI 6403

voicing: any combination of voices (2 to 5 parts)

accompaniment: a cappella

language: Hebrew (alternate English)

text: Psalms

year of composition: 1982

timing: depends on which canons are chosen and how they are realized


level of difficulty: easy to moderate

description: Each of these little gems is a setting of a verse or two from the Psalter. The simpler ones are two-part canons at the unison. The more complex canons involve up to five parts, are in mixed meter, have entrances in different keys and involve inversion of the subject. A word of warning to the conductor: the composer has written many of these in the form of “puzzle canons;” you’ll need to figure out their solutions. But it’s worth the effort. These are fun to sing and lovely to listen to. Use your imagination in selecting a sub-set of the eighteen, allocating them to various combinations of voices, and arranging ways to bring each canon to a conclusion.


title: Psalms of Woe and Joy

composer: Robert Starer

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 991047

voicing: SATB div

accompaniment: piano

language: Hebrew (English alternate text available)

text: Psalms 6, 136, 148

year of composition: 1975

timing: 9:10

recordings: Gloria Dei Cantores

level of difficulty: challenging

description: The first movement is the Psalm of woe, full of yearning and pain, in a slow tempo. The second movement is a jubilant finale in which the chorus is called on to clap and snap fingers, as well as sing.



title: Roni Akarah (Sing, O Barren)

composer: (and arranger) Paul Ben-Haim

publisher: Israel Music Publications (distributed in the USA by Theodore Presser)

catalogue number: IMP 313, Presser 512-00008

voicing: SATB, solo SATTBB

accompaniment: a cappella

timing:  9:30

language: Hebrew

text: Isaiah 54

year of composition: 1956-57

recordings: RCA International (Camden) LP INTS 1365

level of difficulty: somewhat challenging

description: This four-movement motet is one of Ben-Haim’s finest choral works. Paul Ben-Haim, who emigrated from Germany to Palestine in 1933, is generally regarded as the father of the “Eastern Mediterranean” school of composition, and “Roni Akarah” is a fine example of that style. The modes, rhythms, melodies and textures are reminiscent of he Middle East, while the forms are those of European art music. This work will challenge the finest choirs, and leave a stirring impression on the audience.

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