V’higad’ta L’vincha (And You Shall Tell Your Child), for treble chorus (SSA), clarinet, cello and piano (1996)-16′

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 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.

The web page for this composition is in progress.  Please contact me at gerald@nullgeraldcohenmusic.com for more information about the piece.

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

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

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

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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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