Wednesday, September 28, 2011

“HH”: Remembering my shul-choir-member days

I have fond memories of the years—over a decade—that I spent in the alto section of my former synagogue’s volunteer choir. I loved the music that I learned and sang. In fact, I chose my blogger name to honor Salamone Rossi, possibly the first, and certainly one of the finest, Jewish multi-part choral composers since the days of the Bet HaMikdash/Holy Temple.

Some of the HH—High Holidays/Yamim Noraim—choral selections had their good and not-so-good points. One of the last pieces I learned and sang was a four-part U-n’taneh Tokef with multiple solos. It was absolutely gorgeous—but it was also probably at least as long as Kol Nidré! What on earth was the conductor thinking, asking a mixed-age crowd to stand for so long right before the K’dushah? Of all the compositions that we sang, that one was almost certainly the most obviously composed as a concert piece. The more halachically-inclined might also object to all the word-repetition in that particular composition—our current synagogue’s last rabbi always said that one is not supposed to repeat words when davvening/praying.

That said, I have very fond memories of HH in the choir box (which, fortunately, was on the main floor and completely visible—I can’t stand those “angels-singing” hidden choirs). The music and camaraderie were a pleasure. And my HH choir days left me with a long-term benefit—I’m much better acquainted with the Machzor(im)/prayer book(s) of Rosh HaShanah/New Year and Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement than I would have been had I not spent years in the choir box. Thank you, Mr. Rossi, Louis Lewandowski, Salomon Sulzer, Ernest Bloch, Sholom Secunda, Cantor Charles Osborne, and company, and thanks to that old choir gang of mine.

For your pre-holiday enjoyment, and with thanks to MyJewishLearning and the Zamir Chorale of Boston, I present here snippets of two of the songs by Rossi that I used to sing in choir. (And yes, there are two separate groups from the same choir singing this Adon Olam--when my old choir sang this, I sang alto in the second group. For parts of this song, the two half-choirs combine and sing in eight-part harmony. It's gorgeous!)

Shanah Tovah u-m’tukah, Have a good and sweet year.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We sang Salamone Rossi in my college choir and I loved his music!
I was in the choir in my Minneapolis synagogue and was a soloist. I miss singing that music so much!
Listening to the snippets you shared brought back many memories.
Shanah Tovah u-m’tukah to you, also.

Tue Oct 04, 06:05:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the snippets. Thanks for sharing the good memories.

G'mar chatimah tovah--may you be "sealed" in the Book of Life for a good year.

Wed Oct 05, 10:03:00 AM 2011  

Post a Comment

<< Home

<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>