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Solo Vocal Works on Jewish Themes: A Bibliography of Jewish Composers.  Kenneth Jaffe.  Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2011.  436 pages. ISBN 978-0-8108-6135-0

Reviewed by Joshua JacobsonSolo Vocal Works on Jewish Themes

Cantor Kenneth Jaffe’s publication represents the fruits of a twelve-year project, a compilation of “Solo Vocal Works on Jewish Themes.” The book comprises four sections. In the main part of the book the author presents an alphabetical list of composers. After each composer’s name he provides nationality, dates and places of birth and death, and a list of that composer’s works organized by genre, title, opus number, performing forces, duration, source of lyrics, publisher, duration, date of composition, first performance, recordings, and location of performance materials as appropriate. Then there are three cross-reference listings. The first is organized by theme, including text source (Bible, Mishna, etc.), various holidays, Ethnic Interest (an odd category that comprises mostly Sephardic songs), Fiction, Jewish Experience, Holocaust, Liturgy, Yiddish Theater, and Zionism. The other two lists are indices sorted by voice type and by title. At the very end are a bibliography and a listing of publishers and libraries. Read the rest of this entry »

Judeo-Caribbean Currents: Music of the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue in Curaçao. Gideon Zelermyer, hazzan; Raymond Goldstein, piano. Liner notes by Edwin Seroussi.  Anthology of Music Traditions in Israel 22. Jerusalem:  Jewish Music Research Centre, 2009.

Reviewed by Rebecca S. Miller

The United Netherlands-Portuguese Congregation Mikvé Israel-Emanuel in Curaçao is the oldest Jewish congregation in the Western hemisphere. Formally established in 1654 in the walled city of Willemstad, the synagogue served as a place of worship for the first Portuguese Jewish immigrants who arrived in Curaçao from Amsterdam.  This population—likely descendants of the original Sephardic Jewish population that left the Iberian peninsula during the Inquisition—was later joined by Jews emigrating from Brazil and elsewhere; by 1800, there were nearly 2000 Jews in Curaçao, comprising fully half the white population of this southern Caribbean island.  In 1864, a schism resulted in the establishment of a second congregation—Temple Emanuel—that has the distinction of being what Edwin Seroussi describes as “the first overtly Reform Sephardic congregation ever” (12).  A century later, this ideological split was resolved and, in 1964, the two were reunited; today, the United Netherlands Portuguese Congregation Mikvé Israel-Emanuel is affiliated with the American Jewish Reconstructionist movement. Read the rest of this entry »

The Socalled Movie (2010).  Dir. Garry Beitel.  Prod, Barry Lazar (reFrame Films) & Ravida Din (The National Film Board of Canada). 86 min.

Reviewed by Louis KaplanThe Socalled Movie

In dispensing with the pretext of a continuous narrative and dividing his biopic on Josh Dolgin into eighteen parts to create a fragmented and kaleidoscopic portrait of this multi-faceted Montreal musician, Garry Beitel’s The Socalled Movie has made a symbolic statement that registers in a Jewish key.  For the structure of the film signals in Jewish numerological terms (where Chai/Life = 18) that it is the superabundance of life itself with all of its gusto and exuberance that this project seeks to capture in documenting the on- and off-stage antics of its restless musical subject.  Tracking Dolgin at home and on tour, the film illustrates how he has blended the genres of klezmer, hip hop, and funk into a potent and often rambunctious mix. Read the rest of this entry »