Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jewish liturgical work debutes...at the Vatican

Cantor Erik Contzius recently debuted his lovely new composition, "Mah Ashiv Ladonai - quid retribuam Domino" on November 16, 2010 at, off all places, the Vatican. According to the New York Jewish Week, "Twenty cantors of the American Conference of Cantors(ACC) will present for the first time a concert of Jewish music at the Basilica of Santa Marie degli Angeli e dei Martiri in Rome on Nov. 16 before Vatican officials, hoping to use music as another way to achieve closer relations between Catholics and Jews." The composition is a setting of Psalm 116. I find Mah Ashiv Ladonai, like Contzius' compositions, to be quite moving. Check out his website and, in particular, his recording "Teach My Lips a Blessing." I'm a fan.

Mah Ashiv Ladonai - quid retribuam Domino Premiere

Update: I just got a note from Ruth Ellen Gruber pointing me to her article in the JTA on the concert. It's a great read and provides a lot more detail and context for the concert. On of the elements of the story that she picks up on is dynamics of Jewish movements (denominations) and how they played out. While Italy has a Jewish community, their cantors have never sung for the Vatican. Why? Because they're Orthodox and wouldn't sing in a church. The ACC is Reform and didn't have an issue with it. Also, while Italy has a chief Rabbi, he didn't attend the show. Why? Because the ACC group included women cantors, which violates the Orthodox kol isha rules about women singing in public. Again, the ACC is Reform and have no such restrictions. What makes this double fascinating is that, in the four or five different articles on the even I read, only Gruber's draws out this critical detail.


Anonymous said...

Yeah Jews did not sing at the Vatican because of their restrictions, good one. Just like the one you guys tricked into the history books about how the Jews did usury, when you stole that particular Jewish law, then used it against them. Good ole replacement theology of the Synagogue of Satan the real one, you.

Jack said...

whoa. I can't parse this paragraph at all. I can't even tell if you're anti-Jewish or anti-Catholic. For the record, this is Jewish blog. Not sure if that clarifies anything for you.

If I read your first sentence correctly, you're saying something like..."The real reason Jews haven't sung at the Vatican is not because of Jewish restrictions, but because the Vatican wouldn't have asked or allowed Jews to sing?" Is that right? That's may be true, but isn't necessarily true. But it is worth doing some homework on. I know that the Orthodox Jewish community in Italy has been supported by the Vatican for hundreds of years, but that support was based on Catholic theology...they want Jews around when Jesus comes back so that the we Jews can say how wrong we were. Jewish musicians were also part of Italian court live. There is a document banning Jewish dancing masters, so we know there had to have been Jewish dancing masters and that someone didn't like it.

I'm happy to amend my blog with that basic point that "Jews wouldn't have been invited," but not on your sayso. Email me at jackzero@gmail.com and we'll see if we can put some reasonable evidence together.

I'm just going to ignore the bit on usuary...not that you're necessarily right or wrong, it's just not at all interesting to me. This is a music blog, not a general Jewish history blog.