About

Adonai, where shall I find you? (Ya ana emtza’acha?) was commissioned for the Colorado Hebrew Chorale by Carol Kozak Ward, Founder and Artistic Director of the Chorale, in memory of her mother Joanne L. Kozak. The text, part of a larger poem by Yehuda Halevi (c. 1075-1141), one of the greatest Jewish poets and philosophers of Medieval Spain, speaks of the mystery of and our relation to the divine: that God is both unknowable, and in every atom of the universe; and that by being open to that mystery, we can encounter the wonder of the divine presence.

I originally wrote the basic setting (using the English translation here) as an a cappella melody to be sung as part of the Yom Kippur service, and was very pleased in this composition to expand the melody into a larger choral piece including both English and Hebrew. I was also delighted to write a new composition for Carol Kozak Ward and her chorus; I have known Carol since I was accompanist for her Connecticut Hebrew Chorale during my college years. My first commissioned piece, Libavtini Achoti Chala, was written for that chorus in 1983.

—Gerald Cohen

Score

Text and Translation


Adonai, where shall I find You?
High and hidden is Your place.
And where shall I not find You?
The world is full of Your glory.

I sought Your closeness,
I called to You with all my heart,
And going out to meet You
I found you coming toward me.

—Yehuda Halevi (c.1075–1141)
Translation from Siddur Lev Shalem, published by the Rabbinical Assembly

Performances

Premiere on February 4, 2024 by the Colorado Hebrew Chorale conducted by Carol Kozak Ward.

About

Adonai, where shall I find you? (Ya ana emtza’acha) was commissioned for the Colorado Hebrew Chorale by Carol Kozak Ward, Founder and Artistic Director of the Chorale, in memory of her mother Joanne L. Kozak.  The text, part of a larger poem by Yehuda Halevi (c. 1075-1141), one of the greatest Jewish poets and philosophers of Medieval Spain, speaks of the mystery of and our relation to the divine: that God is both unknowable, and in every atom of the universe; and that by being open to that mystery, we can encounter the wonder of the divine presence.

I originally wrote the basic setting (using the English translation here) as an a cappella melody to be sung as part of the Yom Kippur service, and was very pleased in this composition to expand the melody into a larger choral piece including both English and Hebrew. I was also delighted  to write a new composition for Carol Kozak Ward and her chorus; I have known Carol since I was accompanist for her Connecticut Hebrew Chorale during my college years. My first commissioned piece, Libavtini Achoti Chala, was written for that chorus in 1983.

Adonai, where shall I find you? was given its premiere in Denver in February 2024 by the Colorado Hebrew Chorale, conducted by Carol Kozak Ward. —Gerald Cohen

Score

Listen/Watch

Text: Translation and Transliteration

Ya ana emtza’acha?
m’komcha na’aleh v’nelam,
v’ana lo emtza’acha?
k’vodcha malei olam.
Darashti kirvat’cha,
b’chol libi k’raticha,
uvtzeiti likrat’cha
likrati m’tzaticha.

Adonai, where shall I find You?
High and hidden is Your place.
And where shall I not find You?
The world is full of Your glory.
I sought Your closeness,
I called to You with all my heart,
And going out to meet You
I found you coming toward me.

—Yehuda Halevi (c.1075–1141)
Translation from Siddur Lev Shalem, published by the Rabbinical Assembly

Press

About

From such sparks was commissioned by the Seattle Jewish Chorale in memory of Mary Pat Graham, who was the Music Director of the Chorale from 2009 to 2014, and who passed away in January 2023.  The Chorale suggested several passages from a variety of sources as possible texts for the piece, from which I chose excerpts from chapter 31 of the biblical Book of Proverbs (a section known as “A woman of valor”), and from Orot Hakodesh by Abraham Isaac Kook. Together these texts communicate how the love and friendship of Mary Pat were felt by all who knew her, and that her life created “sparks…[which] illuminate the entire world”—the light of all people who strive, in all our different ways, to make the world a better place. 

The composition uses distinct melodies for each of the three verses from Proverbs, and then moves to a new key and new texture for the “sparks” section. After this part builds to a climax, the three Proverbs melodies sound together, intertwined, with the dominant line being “Her light radiates undimmed through the night;” this is then followed by a gentle conclusion using the words from Kook combined with the phrase “Her light.” 

The Seattle Jewish Chorale will present the premiere of From such sparks in the spring of 2024, conducted by Jacob Finkle.

—Gerald Cohen

Score

Listen/Watch

Text

She offers her palm to the needy, her hands she extends to the poor. 
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 
Her light radiates undimmed through the night. 

Uminitsotsot ka-eile avukot or yitkab’tsu, v’ya-iru et kol ha-olam michvodam.

From such sparks, torches of light gather and illuminate the entire world with their glory. 

Proverbs, chapter 31
Abraham Isaac Kook: Orot Hakodesh  

The translations were compiled by the composer with the aid of several different translations, with special credit to Yaacov Dovid Shulman for his translation of the Kook (permission from translator), and to Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l for his translation of the line “Her light radiates undimmed through the night” (Creative Commons).


About

Haam Haholchim Bachoshech (The People Walking in Darkness), for SATB chorus and chamber orchestra (2021) | 5′

Kumi ori (Arise, shine), for SATB chorus and chamber orchestra (2021) | 3′

Adonai Ro’i Lo Echsar (Psalm 23) for SATB chorus and piano (1999) | 3′

All three pieces are intended for use in the Messiah performance, all have the same orchestration (Strings, 2 oboes, 2 trumpets), and all available in full score and piano reduction.

Each can be performed that way, or as choral pieces separate from a performance of Messiah.

 

Composer’s note:

Paul Dankers, musical director of the Aspen Choral Society, contacted me with a fascinating project: to refresh their performances of Handel’s amazing and beloved Messiah by commissioning new pieces to replace certain movements of the original piece, and to add more choral movements to the ACS’s performance.  When Paul called me and offered the commission, I was intrigued, honored, and a little bit daunted in taking on this task. But then I began studying Handel’s oratorio, and grew fascinated with the idea of writing new pieces that would fit smoothly into the flow of the Messiah, and yet be true to my own musical voice.  And since I am Jewish and write many compositions in Hebrew, I decided to compose pieces that take the English text of the Messiah and replace it with the original Hebrew from the Book of Isaiah.

Haam Haholchim Bachoshech (“The people walking in darkness”) is composed to replace the bass solo aria “The people that walked in darkness” of the Handel. Like Handel’s aria, it is filled with chromatic wanderings in darkness—but it reaches for a more exultant light than the original aria, and then leads directly into Handel’s jubilant “For unto us a child is born.”

The second new piece, Kumi Ori, immediately follows “For unto us”, and my aim in this movement was to respond directly to the motifs and energy of that jubilant chorus: beginning with its 16th-note figures in a new, more distant key, and shifting between different tonalities and rhythmic meters.  When the chorus enters, it is singing a long lyrical line against the continuing energy of the accompaniment, on the text “Kumi Ori (Arise, Shine),” from Isaiah Chapter 60—a text that was also part of the earlier movement “O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion.”

The third piece, Adonai Ro’i, is a new orchestration of my setting of Psalm 23, and speaks about God as a Shepherd, similarly to the piece that it replaces in the Handel, “He shall feed his flock.” In all these pieces, I am using the same orchestration as in the Handel, have aimed to create a musical world that feels very connected to Messiah, and yet clearly to come from the 21st and not the 18th century. It was a wonderful challenge to compsoe these new pieces! The Aspen Choral Society gave the premiere of the three movements as part of their December 2021 performances of Handel’s Messiah and performed them again in December 2022.

Score

Scores for each movement can be viewed on each piece’s page linked above.

Arrangements

Orchestration for Strings, 2 oboes, 2 trumpets

Listen/Watch

Performances

Premiere: Aspen Choral Society, December 2021
Aspen Choral Society, December 2022

Press

The Aspen Times, December 2021: “Aspen choir adds new movements to Handel’s ‘Messiah’”

Pricing provided upon ordering.

About

And yet the light returns was composed for the Western Wind Ensemble, in response to their commission for a new piece appropriate for Chanukah, with an emphasis on the theme of light. I chose a text of Rami Shapiro, from his poem “Chanukah” from Accidental Grace; Rami graciously allowed me to rework the text to create a poem for this musical setting.  The word “light” is passed around the chorus at the beginning and end of the piece, building chords of shifting colors. The overall structure is A-B-A; with the outside sections in long-phrased melodies focusing on the return of light, and the middle section, more agitated, on the forces in life that “threaten to smother our light.”

And yet the light returns was commissioned for The Western Wind Vocal Ensemble by Francine M. Gordon, through the Zamir Choral Foundation’s Mandell Rosen Fund for New Music.  It was given its premiere in New York City in December 2019.

—Gerald Cohen

Score

Text

Text, by Rami Shapiro and Gerald Cohen

And yet the light returns
From within or from without,
At the moment of greatest dark,
light returns.

Time and events flow beyond our control,
sweeping us swiftly on a surging tide.
Our fears, our distress, threaten to smother our light,
leaving us alone with our demons and the dark.

And yet—
From an inner vision or an oft-told tale,
from an act of will or the strong arm of a friend,
from a heartfelt cry or a lover’s kiss—light returns.

Piece begins at 24:50.

About

Program Note: I felt my legs were praying

We strive to use our words, our songs, our bodies—our whole being—to work for a better and more just world.  When Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma in 1965, they exemplified religious leaders who hear the voice of the prophets and the Psalms as an explicit call to action.  In this composition, I combine the words of Rabbi Heschel after the march—most famously remembered in the phrase “I felt my legs were praying”—with a verse from Psalm 35, which also speaks of one’s very body exclaiming praise, and praise of a God who protects the poor from those who would oppress them.

I thank the John Leopold and Martha Dellheim Endowment Fund and the H.L. Miller Cantorial School of the Jewish Theological Seminary, who commissioned this piece for its premiere performance, by the Voces Novae chorus of Louisville, KY, at the May 2019 Cantors Assembly convention in Louisville.  Gratitude also to Dr. Susannah Heschel, for permission to use the words of her father in this composition.

—Gerald Cohen

Score

Text

From Psalm 35 and the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Kol atzmotai tomarna Adonai mi chamocha!
matzil ani meychazak mimenu, v’ani v’evyon migozlo.

[All of my bones exclaim: Adonai, who is like You!
saving the weak from the powerful, the needy from those who would prey on them.]

And yet our legs uttered songs—
The march from Selma was a protest, a prayer.
Even without words, our march was worship,
I felt my legs were praying!

Listen/Watch

Midi Recording:

Performances

Premiere: May 2019:  Voces Novae chorus and students of the H.L. Miller Cantorial School; Cantors Assembly convention, Louisville, KY

January 2020: Interfaith Special Concert Chorus, Providence, RI.  Brian Mayer, Conductor

Feb 2023: Tonality Chorus, UCLA Chamber Choir, Neal Stulberg, Conductor. (Event Link)

Miryam HaN’viyah by Gerald Cohen, sung by HaZamir at its 2022 Gala Concert

About

The text of Miryam Han’via (“Miriam the Prophet”) was written by Leila Gal Berner in 1987, as one of the early efforts to include Miriam in our contemporary liturgy, in this case as a parallel to “Eliyahu Hanavi” as sung at Havdalah. It has since then become a widely used song, sung to same melody as is most traditionally used for “Eliyahu Hanavi.” In 2001, I was asked to write several melodies for The Open Door, a new Haggadah published by the Reform movement, and decided to write a new melody for “Miryam Han’via.”

When I was asked by the Zamir Choral Foundation to choose one of my melodies for a new choral arrangement for a Comminuty Sing of the 2019 North American Jewish Choral Festival, I was delighted to write this arrangement of “Miryam Ha’nvia,” adding a new niggun melody (heard at the very beginning, and then throughout the piece) as a way to expand on the original melody.

The piece was commissioned for HaZamir: the International Jewish Teen Choir by Hynda Feit, in memory of her mother, Muriel R. Schwartz, through the Mandell Rosen Fund for New Music, a program of the Zamir Choral Foundation. Miryam Han’via received its concert premiere by HaZamir in March 2022 at Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center.

—Gerald Cohen

Score

Transliterated Text and Translation

text by Rabbi Leila Gal Berner
Miriam ha-n’vi’a oz v’zimra b’yada.
Miriam tirkod itanu l’hagdil zimrat olam.
Miriam tirkod itanu l’taken et ha-olam.
Bimheyra v’yameynu hi t’vi’einu el mey ha-y’shua.

Miriam the prophet, strength and song in her hand.
Miriam, dance with us in order to increase the song of the world.
Miriam, dance with us in order to repair the world.
Soon she will bring us to the waters of redemption.

Performances

Premiere: March 2022: HaZamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir, Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York, NY
July 2022: Hazamir, The International Jewish Teen Choir, American Jewish Choral Festival, Stamford, CT.
June 2023: Nashir! chorale, Ben Gruder conductor, Merkin Concert Hall, New York, NY.

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 […]

Piano score: $3.00
Score and parts with string quartet: $15.00

Oseh Shalom: performance at Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, NY ,  January 2020
H.L. Miller Cantorial School Choir; Jacob Agar, Arielle Green, and Jacob Greenberg, soloists; Cantor Natasha Hirschhorn, conductor

About

Oseh Shalom was commissioned by Temple Sholom, Greenwich, CT for Cantor Asa Fradkin and Sasson: The Temple Sholom Teen Choir, in celebration of its centennial.  I had never written a choral setting of this very familiar text, and delighted in having the opportunity for Cantor Fradkin, this dedicated teen choir, and this occasion. In this setting, I chose to expand upon the traditional Hebrew text, making it both more personal and more universal: where the original text asks for peace “for us and for all Yisrael,” the text here speaks of peace “within myself, for us and for all Yisrael, and all who dwell on earth, and all of the world/universe.” The simple, but wide-ranging melody is first heard in Hebrew in the solo voice, then in the full choir, before the choir begins a contrasting section, with the text in English. Finally, the original melody returns, bringing us to a peaceful conclusion. The premiere of the piece was at Temple Sholom in May, 2016.

Score

Text

Oseh shalom bimromav,
Hu yaaseh shalom b’kirbi,
Aleinu v’al kol Yisrael,
V’al kol yoshvei tevel,
V’al kol haolam,
V’imru amen.

O You who makes peace in the heavens,
Make peace within myself,
For us and all Yisrael,
And all who dwell on earth,
And all our precious world,
And all our wondrous world,
And let us say amen.

Arrangements

—Arrangement for solo voice and piano (2020)
—Arrangement for chorus with string quartet

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

Listen/Watch

Premiere at Temple Sholom, Greenwich, CT, May 2016
The Temple Sholom Teen Choir, Cantor Asa Fradkin, solo, Gerald Cohen, conductor

Performances

Premiere: May 2016:  The Temple Sholom Teen Choir, Cantor Asa Fradkin, solo, Gerald Cohen, conductor; Greenwch, CT
January 2017: Shir Chadash: The Brooklyn Jewish Community Chorus, Cantor Natasha Hirschhorn, solo, Rachel Brook, conductor; Brooklyn, NY
May 2017: Gerald Cohen Vocal Ensemble, Cantor Asa Fradkin, solo; Scarsdale, NY
January 2018: Colorado Hebrew Chorale, Cantor Asa Fradkin, solo, Carol Kozak Ward, conductor; Denver, CO
January 2020: H.L. Miller Cantorial School Choir, Jewish Theological Seminary; Jacob Agar, Arielle Green, and Jacob Greenberg, soloists; Cantor Natasha Hirschhorn, conductor; New York, NY