13 Sep 2011

Latest Commission--Sim Shalom

After a successful debut performance of my work, "A Woman's Voice," this past June in Boston, friend and colleague Cantor Debra Stein asked if I would write a work for her synagogue in honor of her rabbi and friend, Sheldon Zimmerman. How could I say, "no"? I couldn't! Her synagogue uses a wonderful new prayerbook from the UK which contains a Sephardic text of Sim Shalom that she wanted set. I can understand this completely: Whenever a new prayerbook gets published and a new text gets implemented, a lot of composed music falls by the wayside in lieu of newer works where the text and music are set together.

My challenge was simple: Write a melody for the congregation, a passage for the cantor to sing alone, and make it sound "Jewish" without becoming to self-referential or trite. The only thing that felt awkward at the onset was setting a Sephardic text to an Ashkenazi melody! But I felt I was up to the task. Ultimately, I think it came out very well, and Cantor Stein assures me that everyone loved it! The Sim Shalom was premiered Labor Day weekend and people caught onto the melody quickly.

I look forward to more commission work, but in the meanwhile, the High Holy Days loom in the not-too-distant future!



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