NEW ROCHELLE, NY — From rituals of mourning to exuberant celebrations, from rebellion to times of healing, history has always had a soundtrack to mark key events, figures, and movements. A concert at Temple Israel of New Rochelle, January 26 will highlight how music has reflected and inspired change throughout history.
Temple Israels Cantor Randall Schloss, who initiated the concert concept as the perfect way to showcase the recent renovation of the sanctuary, said, Music gives voice to the important events in history in ways that are digestible and memorable and often expresses meaning beyond mere words.
Cantors Erik Contzius, Shira Ginsburg and soprano and Cantor Schloss wife Leah Schloss perform to the accompaniment of organist Christopher Creaghan, pianist Isaac Ben Ayala and oboist Alan Hollander. Temple Israels youth choir Kol Simcha, will sing an original composition, This is Just a Song (But a Song can Change the World!)
A Musical Journey that Changed Our World
The evening presents a musical journey with a variety of songs focused on change, including within the world of music itself. The program features: Oh What a Beautiful Morning, from Rodgers and Hammersteins Oklahoma, that integrated plot and song in a revolutionary way, to the contemporary, ground-breaking Hamilton, in which Lin-Manuel Miranda tells the story of the founding father without a father, blending hip-hop with traditional ensemble pieces.
Selections from Fiddler on the Roof, about a traditional village adapting to a changing world, and from West Side Story will be performed. In West Side Story, we have music that blurs traditional lines between musical theater and classical music, says Schloss. Its appealing like pop music with the depth of expression of opera. And it introduced the world to the brilliant lyrics of Stephen Sondheim.
The program also includes selections from Joni Mitchell to Bob Dylan that perhaps best encapsulate music with overt political messages, from the civil rights and human rights movements. We Shall Overcome, for example, an anthem with gospel roots that helped expand the work of civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., was first sung by striking tobacco workers in South Carolina in the 1940s and has been recorded by everyone from Odetta to Joan Baez, Pete Seeger to the Jewish Young Singers.
But protest music didnt start or end in the 1950s and 1960s. The stark Strange Fruit, written by Bronx schoolteacher Abel Meeropol (Lewis Allen), the son of Russian Jewish immigrants who adopted the Rosenberg children, was recorded in 1939 by Billie Holiday. This haunting anti-lynching song is one of the earliest and boldest political statements of American culture. At Café Society in New York, one of the first integrated nightclubs in the country, Holiday closed her set with it each evening, while waiters stopped service, and the lights were dimmed, while Ms. Holiday closed her eyes as some patrons walked out in disgust.
Just as Holiday considered performing Strange Fruit a sacred responsibility, notes of social justice ring throughout the music of the worlds religions. The program will also explore the original musical prayers, the Psalms in settings from Middle Eastern music to gospel, reggae and spirituals.
Following the concert in Temple Israels sanctuary, a dessert reception will be open to all.
Temple Israel of New Rochelle, 1000 Pinebrook Blvd., New Rochelle, will present Songs That Changed the World, Saturday, January 27, 2018 at 7:30pm.
The concert is a benefit to raise funds to support music programming at Temple Israel, including its youth and adult choirs. Tickets are $36 for adults, $18 for students and seniors, and $5 for children, with tots under 6 free. Special ticket packages with reserved seating and recognition in the concert program are available, as are ticket sponsorships for those otherwise unable to attend. For more information and tickets call 914.235.1800 or visit: www.tinr.org/SongsThatChangedTheWorld