A story from London
Back when I was signed to Rounder Records, and was touring nearly half the year in the UK, Ireland, and in Europe, I was invited by an acquaintance in the business, Paul Burger, to attend a Friday night service at Belsize Square Synagogue in London.
There, he said, I would hear the most beautiful Jewish liturgical choral music from the 19th century, composed by Louis Lewandowski.
It had consistently been my intention to attend in those years, but my schedule was always too crammed.
So, at the end of October this year, I finally attended the service with Paul, and finally got to hear Louis Lewandowski’s music.
I can’t tell you how it moved me, to feel this exquisite music resonate inside my body… I sensed a little boy from Poland, with my surname, who grew up to make such beautiful, world changing music, that would eventually even survive the ravages of kristallnacht.
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I didn’t want to be disrespectful and take photographs, but I did take this picture of me, in the bathroom mirror!
Cantor Heller of the Belsize Square Synagogue writes,
“The problem remained of how to accommodate all three elements - the Cantor, congregation, and choir – so each participated, in appropriate measure, in the liturgy of services. For those who thought adding the choral element and simply performing melodies in one voice would meet the demands of the congregation, had given no thought to the fact that composing for a single voice is the most difficult element of this art form. And, in the case of religious services, it was made even more difficult since there are no instruments to provide the harmonies.
Hence the genius of Lewandowski! His life’s work was to compose melodies with an organ that were simple and meaningful for the congregation to sing in single voice and for the choir to sing in four-part harmony, while accompanying the prayer modes, the Cantors used in the service.”
Hanukkah begins today, and I thought I would mark it for all my Jewish brothers and sisters, by sharing this gorgeous piece by Louis Lewandowski.
Then, I thought I’d share a song by one Robert Zimmerman, to mark Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere - I got to see him perform this album live back in 1998, and the experience was timeless… it will never leave me. “It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.”
And… to say a big hello to those down in the Southern Hemisphere, I will share this Nina Simone cover of the George Harrison song… Here Comes the Sun.
I loved the trai-brave tome of the massed choir. I would be interested to hear or better yet read the translation of the Hebrew ( i didn't study that at seminary).
Any ideas of a source Alana?