Sunday, April 6, 2008

Singing Dew: The Florence-Leghorn Jewish Musical Tradition

I'm on my second day in Florence, Italy. I did so much walking around today I think I got blisters. Oh well. It's my only day to see the place. I'll be working the rest of the week. Anyway, I'm back in my hotel room, tummy full of Gorgonzola pizza, Campari soda, and pistachio gelato and am ready to get back to Jewish music, Italian style.

Singing Dew Album CoverToday's find is a lovely recording issued a few years ago by the Feher Jewish Music Center at Beth Hatefutsot, The Nahum Goldmann Museum of the Jewish Diapora, Tel Aviv. The recording presents the Florence Synagogue Choir singing local melodies for "Sabbath, the New Year, the three festivals of pilgrimage (Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles), Simhat Torah (Rejoicing of the Law) and the Ninth of Ab, as well as songs to celebrate weddings and the birth of a son." The Feher website offers a few samples, so give them a listen. I'm particularly enjoy the Lecha Dodi. Most of the melodies I'm familiar with either have a much faster tempo, or start faster and then slow down half way through. I'm not familiar with one that starts so slowly.

Lecha Dodi

Achot Ketana (The Little Sister)

Sheva Berakot

The Feher Music Center has a lot more interesting recordings, check them out.

By the way, there is a big fluff going on in the Jewish music world right now regarding the Feher Jewish Music Center. Yuval Shaked, the former director of the Feher Music Center, was recently fired. Since the Music Center only has one employee, Shaked, this has raised concern by the community that the Music Center is going to be shut down. While I don't really know any of the inside story, I do know that there's a petition circulating to reinstate Shaked. It's in Hebrew, but I was sent a translated copy which reads...
"The Feher Jewish Music Center is severely and acutely endangered by the Management of Beth Hatefutsoth (The Nahum Goldmann Museum of the Jewish Diapora, Tel Aviv). The work of the sole musician at the Museum, Yuval Shaked, current Director of the Feher Jewish Music Center, had been terminated by the Management and will come to its end on March 31, 2008.

Upon his dismissal, the vast recording collection of the Center, the CD series it released and its unique databank – all renowned and acknowledged throughout the world – will be abandoned. The contacts nourished by the FJMC with partner archives and institutions all over the world, its initiatives and intense endeavors on behalf of Jewish music of all kinds, places, times and styles (preservation & documentation) will all be neglected and destroyed. Various projects in progress will be stopped. Hard labor done over many years will get lost.

We therefore appeal to Beth Hatefutsoth's management to nullify its most regrettable and deplorable action, and ensure Mr. Shaked's position and the maintenance of the recording collection and activities of the Feher Jewish Music Center for many years to come"


Anonymous said...

You blog is an incredible resource for Jewish music: thank you! I just wanted to let you know that your links to the music on this post aren't working correctly, which is a shame, because I'm sure the music is great.

Keep up the great work! Yasher koach!

Jack said...

I'm glad you've enjoyed the blog. I'm sorry that the links are down for this. I'll look for updates and will post another comment if I can fix them.

Jack said...

Ok. All fixed. This happens to me all the time when websites get redesigned. Thanks for letting me know.