And there was music

 The Journeys in Jewish Music series produced by the Victoria Jewish Community Choir (VJCC) wrapped up on Sunday, June 20, 2021 with an engaging session on Klezmer music by Moshe Denburg. VJCC is grateful for the funding from the Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island (JFVVI) which, along with the support of our community sponsor Congregation Emanu-El, the enthusiasm of the many who participated and those who made donations, made the program possible.

We are incredibly pleased to announce that JFVVI has granted us another generous allotment which makes it possible to continue the series in the Fall with an additional six Zoom presentations. We are now organizing this series and welcome any suggestions regarding content or knowledgeable presenters. The talks are scheduled for Monday evenings following the High Holydays, and dates and details will be released as available. If you registered for the previous series, you will automatically be notified and sent the links.

To register or send comments or suggestions please send a note to: jewishmusictalks@gmail.com.
The Victoria Jewish Community Choir is non-auditioned and welcomes all voices. The Choir will re-convene as soon as regulations permit. If you are interested in joining the choir, please contact co-director Carol Sokoloff at casjazz@islandnet.com.

The Way of the Klezmer: Klezmer and Yiddish Song

Sunday, June 20, 2021, at 7:30 pm—Journeys of Jewish Music, sponsored by the Victoria Jewish Community Choir, brings Moshe Denburg back for the sixth and last conversation in the series. Moshe will explore the Ashkenazi stream of Jewish music and answer some of the following questions: What is Klezmer? What are its modes and rhythms? How is Yiddish song associated with the Klezmer tradition? How have Ashkenazi traditions of Jewish music-making evolved over the past 150 years? There will be musical examples sung and played live with participation encouraged. For advance information on the subject, consult this essay on the Tzimmes website: http://www.tzimmes.net/jewish-music/the-way-of-the-klezmer/

Moshe Denburg is an award-winning composer, arranger, and music educator whose works have been widely performed in Canada, the US, and internationally. Moshe hails from a well-known Montreal Rabbinical family; he moved to the West coast in 1982. Having grown up in the synagogue, his knowledge of Jewish liturgy and musical practices is deeply rooted. He has traveled worldwide, living, and studying in the US, Israel, India and Japan. A life-long musician, Moshe has sung and written songs in Jewish and Middle Eastern idioms extensively. He started his ensemble Tzimmes in Victoria in 1986; he studied composition at UVic. Moshe is committed to presenting Jewish Music in its many styles and languages. His music incorporates Klezmer (European), Sephardi (Mediterranean), and North American Folk influences in several languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, and English. Moshe is also the founder of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra and has written many large scale compositions which bring together the instrumental and musical resources of many cultures. 

Join online: CLICK HERE
Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
Meeting ID: 943 1192 7875

Sing a New Song to G!d

Monday, June 7, 2021, from 7:30 -8:45 pmJourneys of Jewish Music sponsored by the Victoria Jewish Community Choir welcomes Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel who will continue our series with Sing a New Song to G!d: New Prayer Compositions.

The phrase, “Sing a New Song to G!d” is found in several psalms. Rabbi Hanna—composer of new liturgical music—will explore the creation of soulful songs of Jewish prayer, and share her experience as part of a moment when new melodies were pouring into the world. She affirms that,  through inspiration and connection, one may open the heart to “the mystery” tapping into grace.

Rabbi Hanna  will share her own compositions, and some exquisite prayer songs currently flowing through gifted young composers. These songs invite the joy of transcendence, and the experience of oneness that bring about a kind of ecstasy for composer, listener, and those who sing. Rabbi Hanna is a poet and composer of mystical music, who has recorded eight albums of original liturgical compositions. With her husband, Rabbi Daniel, she has helped build and sustain communities in Vancouver BC, Hanover NH, and Boston, MA. She also serves as a spiritual guide in the ALEPH Clergy Program. 

To register for this session, please send an email to the following address: jewishmusictalks@gmail.com

Join online: CLICK HERE
Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
Meeting ID: 978 7083 2754

Nigunim: Ḥasidic Meditative Melodies

Monday, May 31, 2021 at 7:30 pm— The Journeys of Jewish Music series sponsored by the Victoria Jewish Community Choir continues with Rabbi Matt Ponak presenting Nigunim: Ḥasidic Meditative Melodies.

There are gates in heaven that cannot be opened except by melody and song.” — Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, 18th century

The Hebrew word nigun literally means “melody.” It is commonly understood as a meditative song without words. Since the origins of the Ḥasidic movement in the 1700s, nigunim (pl.) have been sung alone, or in groups, to cultivate an experiential connection with the Divine. Some nigunim are joyful, some are sad, others are deep and contemplative. Join Rabbi Matthew Ponak for an exploration of the different shades of Ḥasidic melodies through stories, teachings, and live singing. 

Rabbi Matthew Ponak is a musician and teacher of embodied transformation. His 2016 album Bridges of Song contains traditional and original nigunim with bluegrass instrumentation. Rabbi Matthew received ordination through Hebrew College Rabbinical School and also holds an MA in Contemplative Religions from the Buddhist-inspired Naropa University. He weaves world wisdom with ancient Jewish insights when he teaches and leads contemplative singing. 

To register for this session, please send an email to the following address: jewishmusictalks@gmail.com

For further information on Journeys in Jewish Music,  please consult: https://www.facebook.com/Victoria-Jewish-Community-Choir-108274344696698 or contact Carol at: casjazz@islandnet.com

Jewish Music & the Holocaust

Sunday, May 30, 2021, at 7 pmCongregation Emanu-El Adult Education Team invites you to join Dr. Suzanne Snizek, when she will introduce the concept of “suppressed music” through musical examples and biographical sketches, and discuss some of the contemporary issues and challenges related to reinstating music that was marginalized for racist and ideological reasons during the Shoah.

Suzanne Snizek has performed and presented extensively throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Dr. Snizek’s groundbreaking research on Music in WWII British Internment Camps has been published by Böhlau Verlag-Vienna, Routledge-New York, the Council of Europe, Berghann-New York, Armand Colin-Paris, and online by the World ORT website.

A former winner of the national Flute Talk Magazine Competition, the UArts Concerto Competition, the New York Flute Club Competition and the Mid-South Young Artist Flute Competition, Suzanne Snizek has performed with the ESO (National Orchestra of Taiwan), and was an active freelance orchestral and chamber musician before receiving her DMA at UBC (Vancouver) in 2011. Currently an Associate Professor at the University of Victoria, Dr. Snizek released her critically acclaimed CD titled Chamber Music (Re)Discoveries in 2016, and subsequently received the 2017 REACH award for “Excellence in Creative Expression” from the University of Victoria.

Join online: CLICK HERE
Regular Dial-in: Call: 1 778 907 2071
Meeting ID: 851 7500 7001
Passcode: 141429

Donations to our Adult Education fund are always welcome. You may donate ONLINE or through the office at info@congregationemanuel.ca

Call from the East: The Mizrahi Tradition

On Sunday, May 23, 2021, at 7:30 pm, Journeys of Jewish Music sponsored by the Victoria Jewish Community Choir continues with a Call from the East: The Mizrahi Tradition with Gary Cohen and Amber Woods.

For centuries, Jews lived in Arabic countries where their music influenced, and was influenced by, the local culture. This music has been called Mizraḥi—the Hebrew term for “Eastern”. Gary Cohen and Amber Woods of the world folk duo, Kouskous, will share the flavours and rhythms of various regions of the Middle East and Mediterranean basin—including Morocco, Turkey and Yemen. Through musical examples, they will explore the influence of the Sephardic populations, the features of Arabic music, and the unique traditions of several regions. With infectious rhythms and intoxicating melodies, this promises to be a most engaging journey to the East. 

Gary Cohen began his musical career as a teenager. He was inspired by his mother’s singing of Jewish songs, and was greatly influenced by his friend, teacher and mentor, Moshe Denburg. Gary was a co-founder of Tzimmes, and has played in a number of bands, ranging from Greek to Klezmer.  Currently he fronts the world folk music duo, Kouskous.

Amber Woods came to music through many years of folk dancing, and her studies of Egyptian Dance with Carol Sokoloff.  The wonderful rhythms moved her to study the Middle Eastern hand drum and tambourine.  She is the other half of the world folk music duo, Kouskous.

To register for this session, please send an email to the following address: jewishmusictalks@gmail.com

For further information on Journeys in Jewish Music,  please consult: https://www.facebook.com/Victoria-Jewish-Community-Choir-108274344696698 or contact Carol at: casjazz@islandnet.com

Songs of Sefarad

Sunday, May 9, 2021, 7:30 pm—The Victoria Jewish Community Choir presents the second talk, Songs of Sefarad, in the series, Journeys in Jewish Music with Dr. Judith Cohen on Sunday, May 9, 2021, 7:30 – 8:45 pm.

Dr. Cohen will take us through the repertoire and stories of Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) songs from northern Morocco, and the former Ottoman regions—now Turkey, Greece, the Balkans and Israel. Her program will include narrative ballads of errant royalty, wedding songs combining piety with a hint of eroticism, songs of the Jewish year, and the songs with which people are most familiar—love songs from the late 19th century. Judith will sing some examples live, and play extracts from old documentary recordings illustrated with photos of people and places. Questions welcomed!

Dr. Cohen is a Canadian ethnomusicologist, medievalist, singer and storyteller. Known for her long-time work in Sephardic music, she has also worked with the Crypto-Jews of Portugal for 25 years. As a singer, she also performs Yiddish, Balkan, French Canadian, Portuguese songs, medieval music and pan-European balladry. She teaches part-time at York University in Toronto, is the editor of the Alan Lomax 1952 Spain recordings, and can’t wait for it to be safe to resume her far-flung travels.

To register for this session, please send an email to the following address: jewishmusictalks@gmail.com

For further information on Journeys in Jewish Music,  please consult: https://www.facebook.com/Victoria-Jewish-Community-Choir-108274344696698 or contact Carol at: casjazz@islandnet.com

Biblical Cantillation and the Modes of Prayer

Monday, April 26, 2021 at 7:30 – 8:45 pm PTMoshe Denburg will open the Journeys in Jewish Music series on Monday, April 26, 2021 at 7:30 pm. He will delve into the practice of Biblical Cantillation, an original Jewish invention, and cover the traditional modes of prayer, and how these vary with the occasion (Sabbath, Holiday, Weekday Service etc.), and with the prayers themselves. Musical examples will be sung and illustrated, and participation will be encouraged.

Moshe Denburg is an award-winning composer, arranger, and music educator whose  works have been widely performed in Canada, the US, and internationally. Moshe hails from a well-known Montreal Rabbinical family and moved to the West coast in 1982. Having grown up in the synagogue, his knowledge of Jewish liturgy and musical practices is deeply rooted. He has traveled worldwide, living, and studying in the US, Israel, India and Japan. A life-long musician, Moshe has been singing and songwriting in Jewish and Middle Eastern idioms extensively. He started his ensemble Tzimmes in Victoria in 1986, and attended UVIC studying composition. Moshe is committed to presenting Jewish Music in its many styles and languages. His music incorporates Klezmer (European), Sephardi (Mediterranean), and North American Folk influences in several languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, and English. Moshe is also the founder of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (VICO) and has written many large scale compositions which bring together the instrumental and musical resources of many cultures. 

To register for this session, please send an email to the following address: jewishmusictalks@gmail.com

For further information on Journeys in Jewish Music,  please consult: https://www.facebook.com/Victoria-Jewish-Community-Choir-108274344696698 or contact Carol at: casjazz@islandnet.com

Journeys in Jewish Music: Six conversations

The Victoria Jewish Community Choir invites you to a series of six conversations via Zoom on various aspects of Jewish music on Sunday/Monday evenings at 7:30 pm (PDT) from April 26 through June 20, 2021. They will feature specialists in Jewish music sharing their knowledge, some music, and answering questions from participants. All are welcome to attend free of charge.

To register for any session (or all of them) please send an email to the following address: jewishmusictalks@gmail.com

The sessions will be moderated by Carol Sokoloff, co-director of the Victoria Jewish Choir and will focus on the following subjects and speakers:

  • Monday, April April 26: Biblical Cantillation and Modes of Prayer, with Moshe Denburg of Tzimmes
  • Sunday, May 9: Songs of Sefarad with Canada’s renowned Sephardic music specialist Dr. Judith Cohen of York University
  • Sunday, May 23: Call from the East: The Mizrahi Tradition with Gary Cohen and Amber Woods of Kouskous
  • Monday, May 31: Niggunim: Chassidic Meditative Melodies with Rabbi Matt Ponak of Congregation Emanu-El
  • Sunday, June 6: Sing a New Song to G!d: New Prayer Compositions with Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel
  • Sunday, June 20: The Way of the Klezmer: Klezmer and Yiddish Song with Moshe Denburg of Tzimmes

For further information on Journeys in Jewish Music,  please consult: https://www.facebook.com/Victoria-Jewish-Community-Choir-108274344696698 or contact Carol at: casjazz@islandnet.com

Biró’s in Bergen

Zsofi, Daniel & David

It’s been almost two and a half years since the Biró family left Victoria for Bergen in Western Norway. Although very beautiful, Bergen is the rainiest city in Europe. Where Victoria gets an average of 23 inches of rain per year, Bergen receives over 88 inches! 
 
Starting a new life in Norway has not been easy. They all took languages classes and now navigate their everyday lives more or less in Norwegian. Daniel holds a position as Professor of Composition at the Grieg Academy, U of Bergen. He teaches composition to BA, MA and PhD students, organizes concerts and research symposia, and is constantly at work on his own compositions. Daniel has also been central to the organization of the first official Jewish association in Bergen. Nearly 80 years after the Holocaust in Norway, this will be the first official Jewish organization in Western Norway. 
 
Zsofi works as a substitute high school teacher and as a volunteer English teacher at a local organization that provides supports to immigrants, refugees, and low-income people. Soon turning seventeen, David attends a Norwegian high school, plays piano and tuba and is a computer technology whiz. He recently completed an online introductory course in coding offered by Harvard University. 
 
Says Zsofi: “We all miss the community of Congregation Emanu-El. While it was necessary to move for professional reasons, the inability to take part in regularly organized Jewish life has been difficult.” With the establishment of Det jødiske Samfunn I Bergen (The Jewish Community of Bergen), the family hopes to initiate a new chapter of Jewish life in Western Norway. “Even being far away,” adds Zsofi, “We still feel part of the Congregation Emanu-El community.”