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Jewish Choral Works For Concert Use
by Michael Reid Winikoff

How heartening it is to see and hear the renewed interest in choral singing within the Jewish community over the past few years, not only in "shul" but also in concert settings, such as on the evening of S'lichot, Chanukkah, Israel Independence Day, Lag B'Omer or other concert-worthy occasions.

What constitutes a concert-appropriate or concert-worthy work?  A subjective judgment, of course, one that depends on such circumstances as the performing level of the ensemble(s) involved, concert theme, audience, season, etc. 

The pieces listed here are, in the composer's opinion, well-suited for concert use, due in some cases to their challenging (or easy) nature, their theme and occasion, their length and complexity, their "flourish."   But many other works in the catalog are potentially concert-worthy as well.

For information on license permission for concert use, please see Terms of Use


A-DONAY RO-I ("The Lord My Shepherd Is")

Atmospheric and tranquil.  The four-part SATB version is moderately easy, and the fwo-part version even easier.  The latter may be adapted in various ways.  See Adaptabilities for
A-donay Ro-i (2-part).  Moderately easy.

AHAVAT OLAM

The long dolcissimo unison lines that open the piece make for a golden opportunity to demonstrate an accomplished sense of ensemble and blend for the choir.  Moderately easy.

EIL MELECH YOSHEIV

Grandeur, imagery and pathos, elaborately cast in a traditional mold, make for an arresting rendition of this moving S'lichot text.  Most appropriate for a pre-Slichot program.  Somewhat challenging.  SATB or TTBB versions.

HAMA-AVIR BANAV Israel's epochal crossing of the Red Sea is dramatized in this grand pictorial anthem for SATB choir, in either accompanied or a cappella version.  This work is studded in awe-inspiring harmonic colors and soaring lines.  Especially apropos to Passover.

HANEIROT HALALU
Meditation on the Chanukkah Lights


A beautiful and beguiling work for choir and solo violin, that captures the special mystical wonder and beauty of the Festival of Lights.  Somewhat challenging.
HASHKIVEINU (1989)
Choir, Cantor, organ
Duration: 7:00

An grand, old-style setting for choir and cantor, capturing the vivid drama of this Maariv prayer.  SATB or TTBB versions.  Somewhat challenging. 
HASHKIVEINU
Night Prayer

with harp or piano
Duration: 4:00
An easy, but entrancing setting of this night prayer.  The choral version may be performed with or without solo.  Hebrew or English singing texts.  SATB, TTBB or Two-Part versions.  Harp or piano accompaniment optional.  Quite easy.

HAVIEINU (Motet)
Cast in the manner of a classical polyphonic choral work, a well-executed reading of this piece will demonstrate a substantial musical accomplishment on the part of the ensemble offering it.  Effective for a Slichot evening concert.  Challenging.

HAYOM HARAT OLAM (Motet) This quasi-Renaissance-style polyphonic style motet is painted in characteristic High Holy Day colors.  Its complexity can effectively showcase the ensemble's vocalism and musicianship.  Challenging.

L'CHA DODI
While designed for use in a "modular" fashion as needed in the worshhip service or in concert, to be excerpted or abridged in a variety of ways, this work performed full-length has a satisfying sense of form covering a range of Shabbat moods.  Harp accompaniment will add a rare charm to the performance, or it may be performed with piano or a cappella.  Easy.

L'DOR VADOR The text is the transitional prayer from the K'dushah into the remaining prayers of the Amidah.  This quietly majestic musical setting conveys a profoundly meditative mood, showcasing  refinement of choral tone, blend, and interpretive skill.
  
MA TOVU
This festive modernist setting of the prayer we recite on entering the synagogue, will be highly effective and arresting as the opening work for a concert program.  May be performed with organ or a cappella.  Highly challenging.

PRAYER FOR THE STATE
OF ISRAEL T'filah Lishlom M'dinat Yisrael


A sweeping and fervent rendition of the T'filah, all the more effective with a larger group, but this is nonetheless moderately easy music for the choir.  May be performed a cappella.  SATB, TTBB or Solo versions.  Moderately easy.

PSALM 113
A ravishing work for eight-part choir with soli, cast in Russian/Slavic style, but liberally infused with nusach from the Haggim.  Its grand scale, complete with poignant final fugue and cadenza, will make for an exciting and moving concert work.  Moderately challenging.

PSALM 117 (Hal'lu) This brief, joyous setting of verses from Hallel features a simple melodic line against a filigree of piano with solo instrument obligato.  The vocal line may be taken by unison choir of treble, men's or mixed voices, which may optionally be sung as solo on specific  passages.  The high ease level of this part makes it suitable for children's choir.  See Adaptabilities - Psalm 117.  Easy.

PSALM 150
The text of Psalm 150 celebrates music as a means of praising
G-d.  This setting celebrates and conveys the musical imagery of this well-known psalm with thrilling gestures of chromatic harmony, rhythm and counterpoint concluding with a brilliant fanfare, all to be sung a cappella.  Properly presented, this work can be a choral tour-de-force.  Challenging.
 
SHALOM RAV
("Grant Peace")

A blissful, tranquil sound picture, featuring majestic choral melodies over a scintillating fabric of keyboard sound.  SATBB or TTBBB.  Moderately easy.

UV'SHOFAR GADOL
The powerful words of this central prayer of the High Holy Days are cast in vivid and stirring musical language, depicting the drama of the celestial court of law on the annual Day of Judgment.  Also consider for concert use the excerpt K'vakarat.   Moderately challenging.
  
V'AL Y'DEI Zichronot
A sprawling composition cast in honor of the old style cantor-and-choir settings by such composers as Lind and Greenberg.  But this time, there are three formal fugues along with lots of other incidental counterpoint to go with the more traditional elements.  SATB or TTBB versions, with optional organ.  Challenging.  Also consider as a brief concert work the excerpt Havein Yakir Li.  Challenging.

V'SHAMRU Motet
A sedate, contemplative narrative motet setting of this text from Exodus.  It is a compact work, highlighting carefully modulated blend and subte nuance of phrase, building to an expansive "creation of the heaven and the earth," then settling down to the quiet coda of complete rest.  Artistry of interpretation will govern a successful performance of this piece.  SATB or TTBB versions, a cappella.  Occasionally tricky chromatics - otherwise, moderately easy.
 
YA-ALEH
The evocative opening and closing verses surround richly textured casts of characteristic Yom Kippur coloration, with shifting harmonic shades that will show the best skills of ensemble.  SATB a cappella.  May be abridged or excerpted for concert use.  Somewhat challenging in certain passages.
 
YISM'CHU
A two-part setting combining a lilting Chassidic-style folk-like refrain with cantorial pathos - the traditional epitome of Shabbat morning - and ending with a duet cadenza..  May be performed in several ways - see Adaptabilities - Yism'chu.  Moderately easy.