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Watch and Listen: Nashirah Jewish Chorale of Greater Philadelphia, Live from WRTI 90.1

Listen to Nashirah, the Jewish Chorale of Greater Philadelphia, preview their upcoming concert, "LOVE In Every Language," live from the WRTI 90.1 Performance Studio. WRTI's Susan Lewis is host.

The concert, on May 19th at 3 PM at Curtis Institute of Music, celebrates love with songs from the Jewish world and beyond. At the heart of the concert is the Philadelphia premiere of Palestinian-Israeli composer Wisam Gibran's That Love, based on the verses of The Prophet by Khalil Gibran.

The program was created to affirm that love knows no boundaries and needs no translation. Julia Zavadsky is artistic director of Nashirah. She's also an adjunct faculty member in the Choral Conducting Department at Temple University's Boyer College of Music and Dance.

For lo', the winter is past...the time of singing has come. Arise, my love! —Song of Songs, 2:11-12


Sopranos: Soyeon Bin, Grace Flisser, Meredith Klein, Emily Reich, Cynthia Silber, Toby Winter; Altos: Joanna Gates, Linda Lempert, Eva Kastner-Puschl; Tenors: Scott Beadenkopf, Hal Goldberg, Donato Marable, Stephen Pearlman, Howard Winter; Basses: Robby Eisentrout, Arthur Feldman, Mitch Hirsch, Ira Miller; Piano: Soyeon Bin; Guitar: Patricio Acevedo

PROGRAM for WRTI Live Broadcast:

Tzena Urena - Yehezkel Braun  - Song of Songs

Born in Germany, Yehezkel Braun (1922-2014) moved to Israel at the age of two. Winner of the 2001 Israel Prize, he was one of Israel’s most treasured composers and a frequent participant in organizations devoted to cultural causes. His first encounter with music occurred when he was twelve. He recalled, “Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 is the first classical piece I heard, and when I got to the second movement, I cried. Not because the music is sad, but because of the shock in my encounter with such beauty.” Braun’s setting of the entirety of the third chapter of Song of Songs ends with the joyous, festive sounds of Tzena Urena.

That Love (excerpt)— from “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran, Music by Wisam Gibran - WORLD PREMIERE

Wisam Gibran (born 1970) is dedicated to using music to build understanding between Arabs and Jews. He grew up in a Christian household near Nazareth and studied composition in Moscow Conservatory. In 2002 he created the Arab Jewish Youth Orchestra, and later established the Gibran Academy of Music and Arts in his hometown. Initially a student of violin and piano, he became a master of the oud, a pear-shaped stringed instrument similar to the lute. Gibran’s growing list of works includes an opera, a symphony, concertos, chamber music, and more. That Love uses the poetry of Khalil Gibran (no relation to the composer) and was written for and dedicated to Nashirah and Shirei Chesed, as well as their artistic directors.

Regarding the creation of That Love, Nashirah's Julia Zavadsky met Wisam Gibran last year in Nazareth while teaching a class on Israeli and Arabic music today in Israel. She was mesmerized by his music making and the idea began to form of commissioning Wisam to create a choral composition based on Arab love poetry.

Adijo Kerida – Ladino Folk Song – Arr. By Joshua Jacobson

Folksongs often present a puzzle to music historians. Some composed songs get “folk-ized” quickly, leading many to mistakenly believe they are old, anonymous tunes. Some songs bear a striking resemblance to another tune. The aria “Addio, del passato” from Verdi’s La Traviata is very similar to the Ladino song Adijo, Kerido. Did Verdi hear the tune from some Sephardic friends, or did Italian Jews apply their own poetry to the melody? We will probably never know. We hear this song of unrequited love in an arrangement by Joshua Jacobson.

Die Mame Iz Gegangen - Yiddish folk song Arr. by Charles Davidson
Charles Davidson (born 1929) is the Hazzan Emeritus of Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park, PA. Cantor Davidson has composed over three hundred works, including synagogue pieces, songs, choral cantatas, entire services, psalm settings, musical plays, theatrical children's presentations, instrumental pieces, and a one-act opera. His arrangement of this Yiddish tune, Die Mama Iz Gegangen was created for, and dedicated to, Nashirah.

Chupat HaTchelet – Nurit Hirsh

Nurit Hirsh (born 1942) is perhaps best known to American Jews for B’shanah Ha-ba’ah and her setting of Oseh Shalom, but her works include over one thousand songs and fourteen film scores. The text of Chupat Ha Tchelet is by songwriter and poet Rachel Shapira. Hirsh’s setting perfectly captures the reflective mood of Shapira’s poem, which, according to the composer, was meant as a love song to Jerusalem.

Kala Kalla from Five Hebrew Love Songs - Eric Whitacre

While Eric Whitacre (born 1970) has composed for all types of ensembles, he is particularly noted for his choral music, described by many as “neo-impressionistic.”

Nashirah is the only auditioned, community-based chorale in the Greater Delaware Valley that exclusively presents Jewish or Jewish-themed music, includng music that is traditionally considered Jewish (choral music in Hebrew, Yiddish, or Ladino, liturgical music), as well as music that is not often considered Jewish, such as music that uses Old Testament texts (e.g. Randall Thompson’s "Alleluia") and music composed by Jewish composers such as Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein.

On Sunday, May 19th at 3 PM at Curtis, members of Nashirah—directed by Julia Zavadsky—will dedicate their performance, "Love In Every Language" to the memory of the victims of the recent attacks on Jewish people in San Diego and Pittsburgh synagogues, as well as the memory of Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters who lost their lives in New Zealand and Sri Lanka this year to a dark time of violence and terror.

As Leonard Bernstein famously said: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”


Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.