Monday, December 22, 2008

Chanukah Suite

I've become a big fan of composer Jason Robert Brown's musical theatre scores from seeing productions of Parade and 13 and listening to the cast recording of The Last 5 Years.

You can get a great taste of Brown's music on his Web site, and I always find something interesting poking around there. For example, I had no idea he'd written the Chanukah Suite in 2004. Since the eight-day holiday began last night, it's perfect timing!

Here's how Brown describes the piece:

The Chanukah Suite was borne of two separate desires: 1) to make the celebration of Chanukah an exuberant musical experience that both draws on tradition and looks forward to new ideas; and 2) to write a piece for chorus which combined the "Broadway" idiom in which I most often work with more traditional liturgical choral techniques. Therefore, this challenging medley requires both a strict fidelity to the written rhythms and pitches and a real sense of spontaneity. When it's done in the right spirit, this piece should make Chanukah a powerful, soul-stirring, swinging, rock-and-rolling Festival of Lights.

You can listen to the Chanukah Suite here, in a 2005 performance by the Los Angeles Master Chorale. It's really cool. I love how Brown has taken several traditional holiday songs and turned them into a stirring 8-minute choral work. Don't worry that it's all in Hebrew. There's a translation.

And just in case you have any last-minute Chanukah or Christmas shopping left to do, here's Brown's holiday gift guide.

Happy Chanukah, everyone!


Dale said...

Happy Chanukah to you!! Merry Christmas to me!! If not peace on earth, then at least good music to enjoy.

Dale said...

I just listened to the Chanukah Suite, it was excellent so thank you Esther.

Is there anything so sublime as a chorus of voices? I've long loved a choir, even the bad one that tried to sing their way into heaven in the church of my childhood (led by a tone deaf nun).

Thanks again!

Esther said...

Thanks, Dale! I'm glad you liked it. And I agree, a chorus of voices is so beautiful, so stirring.

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Happy Hanukkah, Esther. Thank you for your gift of friendship.

All the best for a wonderful 2009.

Esther said...

Awww, thank-you Steve. I am so blessed by the friendship that you and the love of your life have given me. And thank-you for all of your Hanukkah wishes, including the very sweet one on your blog. I hope you're having a wonderful Iowa Christmas today. I wish you both a 2009 that's happy, healthy and filled with adventure!