Lionel Stoleru will join me in a special concert July 7th 2014 in the Henry Crown Auditorium in Jerusalem where he will conduct Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and the Israel Premiere of his own composition “The Jewish Symphony” in the first half of the concert and |I will conduct Haydn’s Theresa Mass, on the second half. I have invited him to write about his symphony.
The Jewish Symphony is born from an observation : as I go since years and years to the concerts, I am happy to listen to the Stabat Mater, to the Requiem of Mozart, Verdi or Fauré, to the Mass of Beethoven, but I always wondered why I never hear anything from the synagog liturgy. Neither Mendelssohn nor Mahler composed anything, Ernest Bloch composed from american liturgy, Bernstein wrote a Kaddisch Symphony which is beautiful Bernstein, but has nothing to do with jewish traditional music, and , curiously enough, the only real jewish music which I found is the Kaddisch of Ravel, who was not a Jewish composer….
Therefore, I thougt that there was a gap to fill, and, as I have been educated both in sefarade and hashkenaze jewish synagogs, as I have been admiring many of the traditional melodies, I decided to « make the job »
I first selected the melodies of the main celebrations ,the ones I know and the ones I found at the Center of Jewish Music in Jerusalem. I then grouped them in the four movements of a « traditional » symphony : exposition of the main themes in parts 1 and 4, a slow second part, a rapid and cheerful third part. Orchestration benefitted from a cooperation with Mrs F. Aubin, composer and director of the Rueil Conservatoire.
Part 1 starts with the chofar blows of Kippour : Tekia, Terouah, Chevarim,and continues with several melodies of the Selichot of Roch Hachana, partly sefarade and partly hashkenaze, with the « Veshamerou » of the Shabbat service.
Part 2 contains the complains about life and death : the hashkenaze Kaddish, El Mole Rahamim and the prayer of Roch Hachana «Mi yiyé and mi yamout »
Part 3 ,very lively, starts with two melodies of Lecha Dodi, one sefarade, and one hashkenaze, and continues under the form of a trio based on Adon Olam
Part 4 opens on the well known seven blessings of wedding, and goes on with « Maoz Tsour » of Hanouka. It ends on the prayers of Col Nidré and Neïla ,with a powerful Coda about « El nora halila » bringing back the Chofar for the end.
The Jewish Symphony has been created in Paris in a gala Concert at Salle Gaveau in November 2010, and then performed several times, in particular at the Paris Festival of Sacred Music in 2011. It has been recorded by the Saphir Label.
By Lionel STOLERU