Tuesday, February 20, 2007

458. Piyyutim

A few weeks ago I went to a performance and lecture by The Tefillalt Ensemble, which doesn't have a website for their group but does for their music--

An Invitation to Piyyut

--basically an enormous chunk of all ancient Jewish music, with an emphasis (at the moment, due to availability of sources) on melodies of Sephardic origin. I agree with this Jewschool post; they're amazing, and are opening up a whole new, old world of prayer traditions. I've know about the site for awhile, and had no idea an actual band of musicians was involved. We sing one of their archived jewels almost every week at Kabbalat Shabbat services, a melody that pretty much intoxicates everyone by the second or third note.

Their concert wasn't just an echo of these MP3s, however. The Tefillalt Ensemble takes the basic structure of old tunes and adds an avant garde twist and Eastern tinge. They encouraged us to sing along, which didn't come naturally to my North American ears. But I hope, as they tour the Northeast, that their live performances don't scare away any synagogue music directors from the site. How can anyone keep singing the same, old, predictable version of "Yedid Nefesh," traditional opening prayer of Friday night services, with these 26 alternatives available? The scope of this archive, and breadth it hopes to achieve, is mind-boggling. I hope its intended audience--anyone who wants to add little more life to their prayer services--will pay attention.

1 comment:

Regina said...

Wow- that was incredible, aa! Thanks! I'll have to go through the site more carefully but what I did hear was amazing! It all sounded so different- and that's good!