Milken opens door to Jewish music world
By Amy Kaufman
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In an unprecedented musical feat, philanthropist and financier Lowell Milken is making the breadth of American Jewish music accessible to the public.
This year the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music, distributed in 57 countries, released the second wave of CDs in a planned series of 50 recordings that encompass more than 600 works of religious and secular music related to the American Jewish experience.
Several of the recordings have been nominated for Grammy awards, the Recording Academy announced Dec. 7.
The Milken Archive received another accolade when Dr. Neil W. Levin, an internationally recognized authority on Jewish music and artistic director of the Milken Archive, received ASCAP's 2004 Deems Taylor Award.
The massive project has produced many world-premiere recordings. The new recording of Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky's "Genesis Suite" represents its first performance in almost 60 years, and "A Jewish Celebration in Song" is a unique musical event in which the Vienna Choir Boys perform Hebrew liturgical pieces.
The unfolding collection also offers songs from the American Yiddish Theater; Leonard's Bernstein's "Kaddish Symphony" and "Chichester Psalms"; highlights of Jewish opera; Lazar Weiner's Yiddish art songs; works celebrating the Sabbath and the State of Israel; and Jewish dance music.
For more information, visit milkenarchive.org.
On the international Jewish music scene, the New York-based klezmer band Golem has produced a remarkable CD. Each track on "Homesick Songs" evokes a place in the old country, such as Odessa, Romania, Bukovina, Nikoylayev, Belz and Bialystok. Annette Ezekiel, fluent in five East European languages, sings in a wild gypsy voice. This traditional music, creatively interpreted, is a must for those seeking an accomplished, authentic and vastly appealing klezmer sound.
Golem's CD is available at golemrocks.com.
Neshama Carlebach, daughter of the late Reb Shlomo Carlebach, who wrote more than 5,000 songs, has released her seventh CD, "Journey."
Featuring many songs composed by her father and two original songs co-written by Neshama Carlebach and David Morgan, the CD is intended to "transport the listener on his or her own uplifting and spiritual journey."
The CD is available at neshamacarlebach.com.
"The World Is a Narrow Bridge," a new release from Craig 'n Co., couples a CD of 14 songs by "luminaries in contemporary Jewish music" with a companion book of 50 essays by well-known Jewish figures such as Theodore Bikel, Rabbi Harold Schulweiss, Kirk Douglas and Naomi Levy.
The series, which features Debbie Friedman, Craig Taubman, Alberto Mizrahi and other artists, "represents the best of contemporary Jewish music," said Taubman.
The book and CD are available from celebrateseries.com.