Shabbat Cycle (2010)


For Soprano and Piano

Winner, 2010 Ben Steinberg Young Composer's Award, sponsored by The Guild of Temple Musicians

Published by Transcontinental Music Publicationsa Division of the American Conference of Cantors

12'00" in three movements:

  1. Psalm 98
  2. Meditation following the Amidah
  3. Magein Avot

Second movement only:
Cantor Kay Greenwald, soprano / Dr. Alan Mason, piano
ACC/GTM Annual Conference, Memphis, TN
July 1, 2010

Full cycle: 
Cantor Sharon Steinberg, soprano / Nancy Vogelman, piano
Beth El Hebrew Congregation, Alexandria, VA
Board Installation Service, June 24, 2011

Friday night (Shabbat) Jewish liturgy in Hebrew: Movement IMovement IIMovement III

Program notes:

This three-song cycle was the winning entry in the Guild of Temple Musicians’ Young Composers’ Competition for 2010, the competition for which it was composed.  I selected three texts that spoke to me not only for the beauty of their poetry and for their religious sentiments, but also because they were less familiar to me than many other texts from the Friday night (Shabbat) service.  The 98th Psalm has wonderfully musical lyrics, and while composers have set it to music many times, I could not resist setting it once more.  Since the meditation following the Amidah, the central prayer of the Jewish service, is often said silently (along with the Amidah itself) on Friday nights, I wanted to try my own hand at giving it a melody that reflects the impassioned, entreating nature of the text.  In my third movement, I endeavored to set both the Magein Avot (“Shield of Our Fathers”) text and the text of the following paragraph (Eloheinu … r’tzei vimnuchateinu) in a stylistically unified way.  These movements are in the order that they would be found in the Shabbat service.

I dedicate this work to Hazzan Charles Davidson, DSM, Nathan Cummings Professor Emeritus of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, for his years of encouragement, and his guidance in understanding the subtleties of Hebrew vowels.  I am also grateful to Dr. Ben Steinberg, the 2010 Chair of the GTM Young Composers’ Award, and to Cantor Kay Greenwald and Dr. Alan Mason for a wonderful premiere performance of the second movement.