No Song is Safe From Us

No Song Is Safe From Us - The NYFOS Blog
 |  Joshua Breitzer

Jews liken the oral and written tradition to an ever-living, ever-flourishing source of inspiration. The text of “Eitz Chayim” is always sung when returning the Torah scrolls to the ark, along with a prayer to “renew our days as of old.” The late composer, teacher and scholar Dr. Jack Gottlieb wrote his setting of it for the 1970 New Year’s Service for Young People and dedicated the piece to Cantor Barbara Ostfeld, the first woman to be ordained a cantor.




 |  Joshua Breitzer

A vast canon of what Israelis consider to be “folk” songs were actually composed in the last 80 years by real people. Eliyahu Gamliel’s famous setting caught the attention of none other than Nina Simone, who recorded it in 1962 from the piano with her band and, fortunately for us, the cameras were running!




 |  Joshua Breitzer

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was one of the 20th century’s most renowned teachers, philosophers – and, as it turns out, poets! Heschel’s early Yiddish poetry inspired the contemporary cantor and performer Basya Schechter to compose Songs of Wonder, an entire album set to it.




 |  Joshua Breitzer

On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, we recount how Abraham bound Isaac to an altar and nearly sacrificed him. Sephardic Jews precede the Biblical chanting of the story with this 12th century piyyut (liturgical poem) expressing the same story through dramatic imagery and cantorial/choral call and response. Each stanza ends with the refrain oked v’ne’ekad v’hamizbei’ach, “the binder, the bound, and the sacrifice.”




 |  Joshua Breitzer

Shanah tovah umetukah! I’m honored to be curating this week’s NYFOS Songs of the Day as Jews all over the world welcome the new year 5777 today and tomorrow. The great Canadian singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen drew inspiration from the traditional Rosh Hashanah liturgy to write “Who by Fire,” here performed in 1989 by the composer together with the incomparable jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins.




 |  Joshua Breitzer

Our last post from Cantor Joshua Breitzer!  Remember to join Josh and NYFOS for A Goyishe Christmas to You! on December 14 at HENRY’s Restaurant.  And up next week, one of NYFOS’s favorite librettists, Mark Campbell, will DJ the Song of the Day for you — stay tuned! from Joshua Breitzer: In the last decades Israel has […]




 |  Joshua Breitzer

from Cantor Joshua Breitzer: What Wolf did for German lieder, Lazar Weiner did for Yiddish art song. Over thirty years since his passing, his musical intellect and innovation continue to pique the interest of listeners and performers alike. Here he combines an important anthem from Holocaust-era ghettos and concentration camps (“I believe with perfect faith […]




 |  Joshua Breitzer

from Cantor Joshua Breitzer: Yiddish theatre proved to be exceptionally fertile creative ground for newly American Jewish composers. The Ukranian-born Goldfaden, son of a watchmaker, was one of the early progenitors of the art form, and this original lullaby proved to be an instant classic. By the mid-twentieth century, acts like the Barry Sisters had […]




 |  Joshua Breitzer

from Cantor Joshua Breitzer: For this second day of Rosh Hashanah, while Jews all over the world pray for a year of good health and plentiful blessing, enjoy the Turkish composer Alberto Hemsi’s arrangement of this classic Ladino folk song. “The groom doesn’t want any money – he wants a bride of good fortune!”




 |  Joshua Breitzer

L’shanah Tovah! We are happy to welcome Joshua Breitzer to NYFOS’s Song of the Day this week! Josh is the Cantor at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope and has joined NYFOS for its annual A Goyishe Christmas to You! concerts for the past several years with a beloved rendition of “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” sung in Yiddish. Make […]