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  1. **Bless Adonai who spins day into dusk
  2. The heavens express your fire

**1st piece published by Transcontinental Music Publications

Evening Meditations was commissioned by the Horace Mann Chamber Choir, Timothy Ho, conductor. In talking about writing a new composition for the choir, Mr. Ho and I discussed writing a piece which was connected to the Jewish tradition, but at the same time expressed universal themes. This fit in closely with a key idea for me: of a sense of wonder and gratitude for the world around us as being central to finding a sense of the spiritual in our lives.

I chose two poems that are English interpretations of traditional Hebrew liturgy. The first, “Bless Adonai who spins day into dusk,” is Rabbi Rami Shapiro’s version of the blessing said at each evening service in the Jewish tradition. The second, “The heavens express your fire,” is an interpretation of the beginning of Psalm 19, and is written by Norman Fischer, a Zen Buddhist monk of Jewish origin, who translated a large number of the Psalms in the book Opening to You.

It was a pleasure to write this piece for this excellent high school choir of 17 singers (including my son Daniel, one of the basses). My thanks to Timothy Ho, an inspiring and beloved teacher at the school.   Evening Meditations received its premiere performance in New York City in March 2011.

Texts: 

1. Bless Adonai
who spins day into dusk
with wisdom watch
the dawn gates open
with understanding let
time and seasons
come and go;
with awe perceive
the stars in lawful orbit
Morning dawns
evening darkens
darkness and light yielding
one to the other
yet each distinguished
and unique.

Marvel at Life!
Strive to know its ways!
Seek Wisdom and Truth,
the gateways
to Life’s mysteries!
Wondrous indeed
is the evening twilight.
-Rami Shapiro,
based on the evening liturgy

2. The heavens express your fire
The night sky is the work of your hands
Day after day is your spoken language
Night after night your perfect knowing
There is no speech, there are no words
Their voice falls silent
Yet the music plays everywhere
To the ends of the earth its clear notes float out
To the end of the worlds the words pronounced
Become a tabernacle for the sun
-Norman Fischer,
based on Psalm 19

 

Premiere: March 2011, Horace Mann Chamber Choir, Timothy Ho, cond.
June 2018: Interreligiöser Chor Frankfurt (Frankfurt Interfaith Choir), Bettina Strübel and Daniel Kempin, cond.

thumbnail of The Heavens express your fire score sample

Click here for sample of “The heavens declare your fire” score (pdf)

To purchase score and parts, contact Gerald Cohen: gerald@nullgeraldcohenmusic.com
PDF version of score and parts: $2.50 a copy (minimum 6 copies)

For printed version of score and parts: contact Gerald Cohen for information.
For perusal version of score, contact Gerald Cohen.

For purchase of “Bless Adonai who spins day into night” go to Transcontinental Music Publications.

AboutPerformancesScoreAudio

Uvtuvo M’chadesh was commissioned by Temple Beth Shalom, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.  Conductor Linda Moot, Cantor Robin Joseph and I wanted to create a piece with meditative nature, focusing on one short text. One of my favorite texts, with its idea of constant renewal in the universe, both in a physical and spiritual sense, is the text from the daily and Shabbat morning liturgy: “Uvtuvo m’chadesh b’chol yom tamid maaseh v’reishit” (And in Your goodness You perpetually renew each day the wondrous work of Creation.) An additional text,“Haya / Hoveh / Yih’ye” (was / is / will be), describing the divine in terms of pure Being—past, present and future–also weaves into the work the idea of perpetual renewal. The verse is presented in a simple melody which then is “renewed” and varied throughout the piece. In addition to chorus and piano, the piece features and important solo viola part—the viola helps to bring out the delicate balance of stillness and motion in the music.

Text and translation:
Haya, Hoveh, Yihyeh…
Uvtuvo m’chadesh b’chol yom tamid maaseh v’reishit.
Haya, Hoveh, Yihyeh…

Was, is, will be…
In Your goodness, You perpetually renew each day the wondrous work of Creation.
Was, is, will be…

Note: The literal meaning of “Uvtuvo m’chadesh” is “In His goodness, He renews..”  I have chosen, in giving the translation, to put the line in the second person – “In Your goodness, You renew” – as a way of making the  language gender-neutral, and also of emphasizing the sense of closeness rather than distance in our relationship with the divine.

Premiere: January 2014:  Temple Beth Shalom Choir, Linda Moot,  cond. Hastings-on-Hudson, NY
May 2014: Temple Beth Shalom Choir, Linda Moot,  cond. Hastings-on-Hudson, NY
May 2018: Florilegium Chamber Choir, Ronnie Oliver, Jr., cond., Mamaroneck, NY and New York, NY

thumbnail of Uvtuvo M’chadesh score sample

Click here for sample of “Uvtuvo M’chadesh” score (pdf)

To purchase score and parts, contact Gerald Cohen: gerald@nullgeraldcohenmusic.com
PDF version of score and parts: $2.50 a copy (minimum 6 copies, includes viola part)

For printed version of score and parts: contact Gerald Cohen for information.
For perusal version of score, contact Gerald Cohen.

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Note:  All versions/arrangements of Adonai Ro’i are published by composer Gerald Cohen.
Please contact gerald@nullgeraldcohenmusic.com to purchase scores or for other inquiries.

Adonai Ro’i was originally written, on the loss of a dear friend, as a solo a cappella melody.  I am a cantor, and a dear friend and congregant died of cancer at the age of 42 in 1989.  Her husband asked me to sing at her funeral, and I decided to write a setting of Psalm 23, which is traditionally sung at Jewish funerals and memorial services.  This was indeed one of those cases of a piece of music just writing itself, in the course of perhaps 30 minutes, as I was filled with the emotions of my friend’s death.

As I started singing the piece at other services, I received a very strong response to it, and decided to make a piano accompaniment.  This was published in 1995, and soon was used by cantors all over the country, as well as in churches and other services and concerts.  It is a very curious thing for a composer:  I write many pieces of music of all kinds, and it is hard to know exactly why one particular piece captures people’s emotions so strongly, but that is what happened with this particular piece.

I was soon asked by the Zamir Chorale of Boston (Joshua Jacobson, conductor) to write a version for SATB chorus, and that version has also been widely performed.  I have also arranged it for solo voice and orchestra, and chorus and orchestra; these versions have been performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the San Diego Symphony.

I just have to assume that the piece somehow taps into the strong emotions that I felt as I was writing it (I had also lost my father about 8 years before, so I am sure that loss is present as well), and that this then communicates itself to performers, listeners, and mourners.  In 2003, I had the sad but powerful experience of singing the piece at my mother’s funeral.

I am grateful that this piece has become a way for so many to express deep and delicate feelings.  I hope that, if it is a piece that is meaningful to you, that you will feel free to contact me about your experience with it.

I have arranged Adonai Ro’i for many different vocal and instrumental ensembles; a selection of those are listed here.  Please contact me with questions about these or other arrangements:

SOLO VOICE OR UNISON CHORUS
Solo voice or unison chorus with piano
Solo voice or unison chorus with piano and obbligato instrument (Flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, etc.)
Solo voice or unison chorus with string quartet
Solo voice or unison chorus with piano trio (vn/vc/pno)
Solo voice or unison chorus with orchestra
Solo voice or unison chorus with string orchestra

SATB, SSA, etc.
SATB chorus with piano
SATB chorus with orchestra or string orchestra
SSA chorus with piano
Two voices, a cappella

INSTRUMENTAL VERSIONS
Solo instrument with piano
Two clarinets and piano
Clarinet, viola and piano

Adonai Ro’i has somewhat of a different performance history from many of my compositions, as it is used, probably every day, by cantors all over the world at funerals and memorial services.

A few of its most significant concert performances are listed here:
November 2010: American Conference of Cantors, Lauren Bandman, cond., Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, Rome, Italy
December 2004: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Meyer, cond., with the Children’s Festival Chorus, Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh PA
October 2002: Usdan Festival Chorus and Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, New York, NY (premiere of version for SATB with orchestra)
November 2000: Zamir Chorale of Boston, Joshua Jacobson, cond. (premiere of SATB version)
March 2000: Marin Cosman, soprano; San Diego Symphony, Jung-Ho Pak, cond., (premiere of version for solo voice with orchestra)
1997: Featured in the film, The Jew in the Lotus, with Gerald Cohen, baritone
May 1994: Syracuse Children’s Chorus, Barbara Tagg, cond. (premiere of unison chorus version)

thumbnail of Adonai Ro’i (SATB & piano) score sample              thumbnail of Adonai Ro’i (solo & piano) score sample           thumbnail of Adonai Ro’i (SATB & Orchestra) score sample

SATB score sample                                  Solo/Unison Score sample              SATB with orchestra score sample

To purchase, contact Gerald Cohen: gerald@nullgeraldcohenmusic.com

Prices vary depending on arrangement.
Solo version also available in transposed keys.
For instrumental version without voice, see Sea of Reeds page

 

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

by Eric Haines Hebrew liturgy provides blessings for every major event in the Jewish life cycle. Blessings for children, weddings, the Kaddish, the Kol Nidre and the Song of Solomon have inspired composers to write works that deserve a place on the concert stage. The Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival ended its three-concert season on Tuesday […]

Sheila Steinman Wallace

by Sheila Steinman Wallace In one of the most cohesive and moving concerts I have heard from this community chorus, Voces Novae presented “Choral Portraits: Gerald Cohen, Eleanor Daley and Eric Whitacre” on Sunday, March 7. … Gerald Cohen’s “Adonai Ro’i” (Psalm 23) has long been a personal favorite. The chorus and soloist Sarah Nettleton […]

AboutPerformancesAudioScore

O you who linger in the gardens… was commissioned by the Westchester Youth Symphony. The title is taken from the Song of Songs, and the music of the piece relates in a general way to the descriptions of love, at once playful and vibrant, serious and sensuous, from that poem. The Westchester Youth Symphony gave the work its premiere in 1998; since then, the piece has been performed by the Westchester Philharmonic, the Plymouth Music Series Orchestra, and the Syracuse University Orchestra.

Premiere: May 1998: Westchester Youth Symphony, Vincent Lioni, cond., Purchase, NY.
January 1999: Plymouth Music Series Orchestra, Philip Brunelle, cond., St. Paul, MN
May 2000: Syracuse University Orchestra, Paul Breantley, cond., Syracuse, NY
January 2001: Westchester Philharmonic, Paul Dunkel, cond. Purchase, NY

O you who linger score sample #1

O you who linger score sample #2

To purchase score and parts, contact Gerald Cohen: gerald@nullgeraldcohenmusic.com

PDF version of score and parts: $100
Printed version of score and parts: $150 + postage

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Voices and orchestra, premiere by San Diego Symphony

Arrangement for treble voices and orchestra (2000) Arrangement for voice and string orchestra (2006)