As our name indicates, the heart of our service is in the magical combination of music and liturgy.
The experience of praying can be transformative. And the experience of prayer set to music that is haunting, joyous, rhythmical … can be centering and uplifting. The more intensely we bring ourselves into the sacred space, the more valuable the moments we share.
Music and singing is an integral part of all our services. We are also honored and delighted to sing with the Kolot HaLev choir, led by our Hazzan Ramón Tasat, on a number of Friday night services during the year. Rather than have the choir sing separately as a performance, the choir members sit with the congregation and provide an energetic, beautiful sound as we make our way through the musical Kabbalat Shabbat service.
From sing-a-long to choir conducting, Hazzan Tasat helps everyone express their prayers through music.
All musical styles and every genre are welcome when they help us connect with the text and our emotions. Some melodies are intended for the hazzan or Cantor to deliver and some are more accessible and invite communal participation. Whether the music is Hasidic or Middle Eastern, we aspire to reach our most intimate being. We find a wealth of spiritual inspiration in the music of our people from all over the world.
Here are a few examples that describe these wonderful interactions:
- Hine Ma Tov , the first verse of Psalm 133 set to a Sufi melody
- Psalm 29 set as an English hymn
- Tzadik kaTamar to the melody of “O Mio Babbino Caro” by G. Puccini (from the opera Gianni Schicchi)
- VeShamru, set as a tango by the Argentinean composer Marcelo Gindlin
- A version of the liturgical poem Igdal originating in Calcutta
- I celli immensi narrano, Psalm 19 set in Italian by the Venetian composer Benedetto Marcello
- Adonai Ori – a jazz version of Psalm 27 composed by the young American composer J. Klarman
- Shahar Avakeshkha to the melody of “El rei de Francia,” a Sephardic ballad.
- A version of the Kedusha originating in Bordeaux, Franc
- Coplas de Purim, a song for the holiday of Purim from Tangier, Morocco
The State of Israel
The State of Israel has brought an incredible outpouring of wonderful music. Of the many compositions created in the past 70 years, a number of them have become favorites at Shirat HaNefesh.
- Nishmat Kol Hai from Yemen (as sung by the ensemble Diwan haLev)
- Ki Veti, Bet Tefilah (Isaiah 56:7) composed by Shlomo Gronich
- Ana bKoah from the liturgy composed by Ovadiah Hamama
- Shlomit Bonah Sukkah composed by Naomi Shemer
- Un’tane Tokef, from the Yom Kippur liturgy composed by Yair Rosenblum
- Etz haSade, a poem by Natan Zakh and music by Shalom Hanokh
- Amen, sung at the Eurovision Contest and written by H. Ben-Ze’ev and M. Datz
Ki haAdam Etz Hasade
At Shirat haNefesh we are blessed with the participation of some extraordinary musicians that help us express the liturgy more intensely. They are:
Steve Bloom has played percussion in thousands of performances and recordings in Cuban, Latin, Brazilian, Jazz, Rock and Roll, New Age, Celtic and Middle Eastern styles.
Bloom has achieved a command of African and related traditions of drumming and song by the Oral Tradition, apprenticing with several fine Cuban masters; a Senegalese Griot; and Sufi master drummers.
Bloom has performed and/or recorded with other noted artists like Tito Puente, Gregg Karukas, John Faddis, Dennis Cahill, bassists Andy Gonzales and Michael Manring. Since 1995 Bloom has been touring nationally in the Irish/Celtic genre.
Bloom directs or plays in several fine groups, including: Havana Select , Bahkini Strike Force, Facing East Ensemble and the Chakavak Ensemble, Fiesta Sefarad: a group performing Sephardic music from around the world.
Sally McLain received her Master of Music degrees with High Distinction from Indiana University, where she studied with to James Buswell.
She has participated in the Tanglewood Music Center, the Bach Aria Festival and the New York String Orchestra Seminar. Ms. McLain was concertmaster of the Washington Chamber Symphony and a longtime member of the Theater Chamber Players.
She currently performs with the Left Bank Concert Society and its resident quartet, the Left Bank Quartet.