SSA: $2.50
SATB: $3.50

Recorded December 11, 2022 at Sukkat Shalom in Wilmett, performed by Chicago a cappella

About

Chanukah Lights was written in 2005 as a piece for SSA choir with optional piano, for the wonderful A Cappella Choir of the PEARLS Hawthorne Elementary School in Yonkers NY, conducted by Emme Kresek. (In addition to being an excellent choir, the school is a block from my home, and our daughter was a 5th grader there at the time.) A simple melody floats over harmonies set up by the other voices, as the choir sings of the warmth of being together for the Chanukah holiday. The refrain concentrates on the key word “light” and builds a gentle rocking figure in the chorus. 

Chicago A Cappella asked me to compose a new version for their professional chorus, giving me the opportunity to write an SSAATTB a cappella version of the piece that they would perform and record. They gave its premiere in December 2022, and it will be released on a new album of the ensemble in 2023.

Score

Text

The candles are gently glowing,
spreading peace, spreading light.
Our family gathers together,
sharing joy this Chanukah night.
Light, light,
bring joy each night!

-Gerald Cohen

Arrangements

SSA, with optional piano
SSAATTB, a cappella

SA with piano: $2.50
SATB with piano: $3.00

About

Dayeinu is the central song of joy and gratitude from the Passover Seder celebration. My setting of Dayeinu, an exuberant dance, is from the Passover cantata V’higad’ta L’vincha (“And you shall tell your child”) that was composed in 1996 for the Syracuse Children’s Chorus, Barbara Tagg, founder and director, and was commissioned by the Chorus as part of the “Commissioning Music/USA” program  of Meet The Composer and the National Endowment for the Arts, with support from the Helen F. Whitaker Fund.  The larger composition is based on selections from the Haggadah, the central text of the Passover celebration.  One of the most significant themes of the Haggadah, emphasized in my choices of text for the piece, is that we all must experience the story of the deliverance from slavery as if we ourselves had lived through it; we must then tell our children that story so as to pass it down, vividly, from one generation to the next.  A recording on CD of the original version for three-part treble chorus with the Syracuse Children’s Chorus, Barbara Tagg, conductor, appears on the album Generations: Music of Gerald Cohen (CRI 879). —Gerald Cohen

Note: Dayeinu, and the entire V’higad’ta L’vincha, are available in versions both for treble chorus and for SATB chorus.  Either version can be performed either in a full score version with clarinet, cello and piano; or in the piano reduction. 

Score

Text

Kama maalot tovot lamakom aleinu!
Ilu hotsianu mimitsrayim, Dayeinu!
Ilu kara lanu et hayam, Dayeinu!
Ilu sipeik tsorkeinu bamidbar arbayim shana, Dayeinu!
Ilu keirvanu lifnei har sinai, Dayeinu! 
Ilu natan lanu et hatorah, Dayeinu!
Ilu hichnu l’erets yisraeil, Dayeinu!

How many acts of kindness God has performed for us!
If God had brought us out of Egypt, Dayeinu!  (it would have been enough for us!)
If God had split the sea for us, Dayeinu!  
If God had sustained us in the wilderness for forty years, Dayeinu!  
If God had brought us before Mount Sinai, Dayeinu!  
If God had given us the Torah, Dayeinu!  
If God had led us to the land of Israel, Dayeinu!  

Arrangements

Dayeinu, and the entire V’higad’ta L’vincha, are available in versions both for treble chorus and for SATB chorus.  Either version can be performed either in a full score version with clarinet, cello and piano; or in the piano reduction. 

Dayeinu is also the final movement of the instrumental piece Sea of Reeds, in its several arrangements.

Listen/Watch

SA Version
(From Sea of Reeds—clarinet duo and piano)

Performances

Selected:

Premiere: April 1997  – Syracuse Children’s Chorus, Barbara Tagg, cond.; Syracuse, NY
May 1998 – Juilliard Pre-College Chorus, Rebecca Scott, cond.; New York, NY (SSA version)
April 2006 – Princeton Pro Musica, Frances Slade, cond., Lawrenceville, NJ (SATB version)
April 2010 – Choirs of Jewish Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College, Joyce Rosenzweig, cond. (SATB version)
May 2010 – Concerto Della Donna, Iwan Edwards, cond.; Montreal, Québec (SSA version)
April 2016 – HaZamir, the International Jewish High School Choir, Joel Caplan, cond., New York, NY (SATB version, “Dayeinu” movement) See video of this performance at Carnegie Hall

Press

The Louisville Courier-Journal

by Andrew Adler For Frank A. Heller III, every concert describes a small journey of inner space. Voces Novae, the chorus he trains and nurtures season after season, looks first to the spirit present within each of its singers, and by extension his audiences. It’s no exaggeration to call Heller’s perspective a pan-theistic, summoning faiths […]

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 […]

Prices vary depending on arrangement. See below.

“Dayeinu”, from V’higad’ta L’vincha, performed by HaZamir, the International Jewish Teen Choir, Carnegie Hall, New York, NY, April 2016. Conducted by Cantor Joel Caplan, HaZamir North Jersey and accompanied by composer Gerald Cohen on the piano.

About

V’higad’ta L’vincha (And You Shall Tell Your Child…) was composed in 1996 for the Syracuse Children’s Chorus, Barbara Tagg, founder and director, and was commissioned by the Chorus as part of the “Commissioning Music/USA” program of Meet The Composer and the National Endowment for the Arts, with support from the Helen F. Whitaker Fund. In addition to this original SSA version, I have also written a version of the piece for SATB chorus.

V’higad’ta L’vincha is based on selections from the Passover Haggadah. The Haggadah, or “telling,” is the text that is used at the Seder, the family meal—full of discussion, ceremony, and song—that is the central feature of the Passover celebration of freedom and rejoicing.

One of the most significant themes of the Haggadah, emphasized in my choices of text for the piece, is that we all must experience the story of the deliverance from slavery as if we ourselves had lived through it; we must then tell our children that story so as to pass it down, vividly, from one generation to the next. Children are thus the central figures in the Seder, and it seemed most appropriate to write a setting of this text in a work composed for children’s chorus.

The piece begins with a chant-like presentation of the biblical verse that instructs us to tell our children the story of the Exodus, and then moves, as does the Haggadah, from the oppression of slavery to the joy of deliverance. That joy is expressed especially in the famous text “Dayeinu” (“It would have been enough…”), set here as a lively dance, and in the final “L’fichach,” which gives thanks to God in a procession which grows from a quiet beginning to an exuberant conclusion.

NOTE: Also available in a version for SATB chorus.  Both versions can either be performed with the instrumental version of clarinet, cello, and piano, or with the piano reduction as accompaniment.

Score

Text

1. V’higad’ta l’vincha bayom hahu leimor: baavur ze asa Adonai li, b’tseiti mimitsrayim; ki v’yad chazaka hotsiacha Adonai mimitsrayim.

2. Avadim hayinu l’faro b’mitsrayim, vayotsieinu Adonai eloheinu misham b’yad chazaka uvizro’a n’tuya. V’chol hamarbe l’saper bitsiat mitsrayim harei ze m’shubach.

3. Ha lachma anya, diachalu avatana, b’ara dimitsrayim.  Kol dichfin yeitei v’yeichul, kol ditsrich yeitei v’yifsach. Hashata hacha, lashana haba’a b’ara d’yisraeil. Hashata avdei lashana haba’a b’nei chorin.

4. Kama maalot tovot lamakom aleinu!
Ilu hotsianu mimitsrayim, Dayeinu!
Ilu kara lanu et hayam, Dayeinu!
Ilu sipeik tsorkeinu bamidbar arbayim shana, Dayeinu!
Ilu keirvanu lifnei har sinai, Dayeinu! 
Ilu natan lanu et hatorah, Dayeinu!
Ilu hichnisanu l’erets yisraeil, Dayeinu!

5. B’chol dor vador, chayav adam lirot et atsmo k’ilu hu yatsa mimitsrayim.  Shene’emar: V’higad’ta l’vincha bayom hahu leimor: baavur ze asa Adonai li, b’tseiti mimitsrayim.

6. L’fichach anachnu chayavim l’hodot, l’haleil, l’shabeiach, l’faer, l’romeim, l’hadeir, l’vareich l’alei, ul’kaleis, l’mi sheasa lavoteinu v’lanu et kol hanisim ha’eilu.  Hotsianu meiavdut l’cheirut, miyagon l’simcha, meieivel l’yom tov, umeiafeila l’or gadol, umishibud ligula.  V’nomar l’fanav shira chadasha, Hal’luya!

Translation

1. And you shall tell your child on that day, saying: it is because of what Adonai did for me when I went out of Egypt.  For with a mighty hand did Adonai bring you out of Egypt.

2.  We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and Adonai our God brought us out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.  And the more one talks about the exodus from Egypt, the more praiseworthy it is.

3. This is the bread of poverty which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt.  Let all who are hungry come and eat; let all who are needy come and celebrate the Passover.  Now we are here; next year may we be in the land of Israel.  Now we are slaves; next year may we be free people.

4. How many acts of kindness God has performed for us!
If God had brought us out of Egypt, Dayeinu!  (it would have been enough for us!)
If God had split the sea for us, Dayeinu!  
If God had sustained us in the wilderness for forty years, Dayeinu!  
If God had brought us before Mount Sinai, Dayeinu!  
If God had given us the Torah, Dayeinu!  
If God had led us to the land of Israel, Dayeinu!  

5.  In every generation, each person should feel as if he or she had actually experienced the exodus from Egypt.  As it is written:  And you shall tell your child on that day, saying: it is because of what Adonai did for me when I went out of Egypt.

6. Therefore, we should thank, praise, laud, glorify, exalt, honor, bless, extol, and adore the Power who performed all of these miracles for our ancestors and for us.  God brought us from slavery to freedom, from sorrow to joy, from mourning to celebration, from darkness to great light, from bondage to redemption.  Let us then sing a new song to God, Halleluya!

Arrangements

Arrangement for SATB chorus, clarinet, cello and piano (1999)

Both versions can either be performed with the instrumental version of clarinet, cello, and piano, or with the piano reduction as accompaniment. Prices are as follows:
SA Octavo: $7.00
SA Full Score and parts: $25.00
SATB Octavo: 10.00
SATB Full Score and parts: 30.00

The 4th movement “Dayeinu“, is often performed as a separate piece, and is available with the instrumental ensemble, or with piano reduction.

Listen/Watch

EXCERPTS of all movements of V’higad’ta L’vincha:

Performances

Selected:

Premiere: April 1997  – Syracuse Children’s Chorus, Barbara Tagg, cond.; Syracuse, NY
May 1998 – Juilliard Pre-College Chorus, Rebecca Scott, cond.; New York, NY (SSA version)
April 2006 – Princeton Pro Musica, Frances Slade, cond., Lawrenceville, NJ (SATB version)
December 2006 – Zamir Chorale, Matthew Lazar, cond., Merkin Concert Hall, New York, NY, (SATB version, “Dayeinu” movement)
April 2010 – Choirs of Jewish Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College, Joyce Rosenzweig, cond. (SATB version)
May 2010 – Concerto Della Donna, Iwan Edwards, cond.; Montreal, Québec (SSA version)
April 2016 – HaZamir, the International Jewish High School Choir, Joel Caplan, cond., New York, NY (SATB version, “Dayeinu” movement) See video of this performance at Carnegie Hall

Recorded on album Generations: Music of Gerald Cohen, performed by the Syracuse Children’s Chorus, Barbara Tagg, cond.

Press

The Louisville Courier-Journal

by Andrew Adler For Frank A. Heller III, every concert describes a small journey of inner space. Voces Novae, the chorus he trains and nurtures season after season, looks first to the spirit present within each of its singers, and by extension his audiences. It’s no exaggeration to call Heller’s perspective a pan-theistic, summoning faiths […]

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 […]

Y’varech’cha by Gerald Cohen, sung by HaZamir and HaZaPrep Conductors, Parents and Grandparents

About

Y’varech’cha

The text of Y’varech’cha really consists of two parts: the first three lines, from the book of Numbers (Bamidbar), is known as the Priestly Blessing, and is perhaps the earliest extant blessing we have in Jewish texts. It is a part of  all Jewish and Christian liturgies. The last two lines are additional blessings traditionally said by parents to their children at the beginning of the Sabbath.

The core melody of Y’varech’cha, with the mood of a lullaby, was originally written in 1995 on the joyous occasion of the birth of our child, Cass. I first composed it in a version for two-part chorus (or solo duet) and piano, and have since made many different arrangements, with accompaniments available for an obbligato instrument with piano, for string quartet and orchestra, as well as various purely instrumental arrangements. I wrote a new version for SATB chorus and piano in 2020.

In addition to its use for the Sabbath, the piece is appropriate for any setting of blessing, including interfaith services.

Score

Text and Translation

Y’varech’cha Adonai v’yishm’recha,
Ya-eir Adonai panav eilecha vichuneka,
Yisa Adonai panav eilecha v’yaseim l’cha shalom.

Y’sim’cha Elohim k’Efrayim v’chiM’nashe,
Y’simeich Elohim k’Sara, Rivka, Racheil, v’Leia.

May the Lord bless you and guard you,
May the Lord cause the light of His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you,
May the Lord lift up His face to you, and grant you peace.

May God give you the blessings of Ephraim and Menasheh,
May God give you the blessings of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah.

Arrangements

Solo voice with piano, or with obbligato instrument and piano (1998)
SATB with piano (2020), or with orchestra
2 clarinets and piano as part of Sea of Reeds (2009)
Piano solo as part of Sea of Reeds (2020)

Listen/Watch

 Y’varech’cha, for vocal duet and piano; Ilana Davidson soprano; Gerald Cohen, baritone; Linda Hall, piano

Y’varech’cha, from “Sea of Reeds”, for two clarinets and piano (Grneta Ensemble)

“Y’varech’cha” from Sea of Reeds, for solo piano; Alexandra Joan, piano

Performances

Like “Adonai Ro’i,” this has been sung as a solo by cantors for many years at services and life cycle events.