Cantor Erin Frankel
Back in October, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a profile of Yannick Nezet-Seguin, the new music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. I was amazed to learn in the article that Nezet-Seguin spends a lot of his free time listening to music that is not classical. He talked about having a period when he devoured Ella Fitzgerald recordings and then moved on to Sarah Vaughan and Joe Pass. He unwinds by listening to R&B, he loves Jill Scott, and he is able to compare Usher’s early and later music. He described a concert he led in the Netherlands with the Rotterdam Philharmonic where he juxtaposed classical music and techno music for a crowd of 2,500 young people between the ages of 25-35. And the audience couldn’t get enough of the orchestra.
This experience taught Nezet-Seguin that his goal is to “get out of our comfort zone, as long as we play in the best quality possible and the real music that we know.
Nezet-Seguin would not be surprised to experience our musical experimentation here at RS. Were you able to join us this year on a Friday evening when we featured Ani Kinor: The RS Orchestra at our worship service? If not, or if you would like to experience it again, please check out this link on our website: http://www.rodephshalom.org/singrs/. We have just completed our initial set of services to welcome our own mini-orchestra. We are getting out of our comfort zone, welcoming top-notch musicians to our bimah, and exploring how we too can present the music of our worship, the music we know, in the best quality possible.
What has Ani Kinor helped us to achieve in the music of our worship? First, the large ensemble creates a great energy. It is hard not to be caught up in the wave of sound that so many instruments create. And it is a layered sound of musical complexity. Even if the group plays the same piece at each service, each time you hear it you discover something new. The fullness of the sound, its textures and its energy, breaks down the barriers to participation in the service. The music wraps us up and we are able to contribute our own voices to the growing sound.
And where are we going, as we continue to explore how Ani Kinor will be a presence in the music of our worship? We will continue to experiment with different musical styles and how we use the strings in our ensemble to heighten the emotion of a piece and to build its intensity. We will continue to incorporate contemporary music into our service and reframe old favorites to reflect the contemporary musical sound of the world outside the walls of our building. And we hope to welcome Ani Kinor to our bimah more often and to continue to explore how this orchestra will build an identifiable character for the music of our worship at RS.
Ani Kinor: The RS Orchestra would not be possible without certain generous and talented people. First, we are so grateful to the Snitzer Family Religious Music Fund for making this whole enterprise possible. Thank you for believing in the importance of the experiment and continuing to grow and learn!
Second, the wonderful musicians who make up Ani Kinor share their talents and enthusiasm with us at each service. Most importantly, Marj Goldberg, an RS member and our violist, has dedicated much time, effort, and love to arranging the music for the stringed instruments and preparing our music. She understood what I was talking about and where I wanted to go from the instant we began talking about this project! Without her willingness to contribute we could not have introduced Ani Kinor to the congregation. Thank you for your beautiful music and your partnership!
We will feature Ani Kinor:The RS Orchestra in our worship again in the coming months, and I encourage you to join us and see where RS is headed in our musical journey. As Yannick Nezet-Seguin implied in the Inquirer profile, the power of music is often in the juxtaposition of old and new. Often we have to leave our comfort zone to make powerful discoveries, and I am so pleased and inspired that we are on our way.