O Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem
A musical prayer for the peace of Jerusalem, sung and played on violas da gamba, lute and organ by Jewish and Arab musicians of Israeli Ensemble PHOENIX. This rare program is centered upon different settings of Psalm 122's verse “O pray for the peace of Jerusalem” made by English composers of the Renaissance and Baroque, and by Israeli composers of modern times.
The original Hebrew text depicts the happiness of the pilgrims who come by foot to Jerusalem, who experience its holiness; it praises Jerusalem as a city knit together, the Holy shrine of worship, seat of the Kingdom of David, of Justice, and wishes for its good.
The moving music by John Blow, Henry Purcell, Thomas Tomkins, Thomas Tallis, Thomas Weelkes, Tobias Hume, Anthony Holborne, Benjamin Rogers, William Child, Charles King, Stefan Wolpe and David Feldman resounds bright and deep through the churches in Jerusalem and Haifa where it was recorded live!
Ensemble PHOENIX on period instruments
Myrna Herzog, concept & musical director, treble & bass viols
Miriam Meltzer – soprano
Hezy Levy - tenor
The Revd. Yazeed Said - tenor
Eduardo Abramson – baritone, viol
Sharon Rosner - tenor viol
Riki Or - tenor viol
Amit Tiefenbrunn – treble and bass viols
Marina Minkin – organ
Isidoro Roitman - lute
Metrical translations of Psalm 122 present in English and Scottish Psalters have been extensively set to music. Here we present versions by Thomas Tomkins, William Child, Benjamin Rogers, John Blow, Charles King and Henry Purcell. Their lives share many similarities: they all started as choristers, became Church organists and wrote much sacred music; with the notable exception of Purcell, all of them were also choir-masters and held an Academic degree in Music. Henry Purcell is considered England's finest native composer of all times. He has made different settings of Psalm 122, nowadays known as "I was glad" (the first words in the text).
The 1954 setting of the original Hebrew text by 20th century composer Stefan Wolpe presents an interesting counterpoint to those early pieces, together with David Feldman’s 1997 free setting of the final portion of the Kaddish prayer – another plea for peace. Wolpe’s work was originally written for voices, and is here arranged by Myrna Herzog 'for voices and viols'. In contrast, David Feldman’s Peace was composed in 1994 (when the composer was 15) originally as a work for 3 viols, receiving a text in 1997. The program is complemented by instrumental works by English Renaissance composers Thomas Tomkins, Anthony Holborne, Tobias Hume, John Ward and Richard Mico.
Stefan Wolpe ( b Berlin, 1902; d NY, 1972) was a Jewish-German-American composer whose style incorporates elements from folk music and modern jazz to twelve tone technique. He lived in Palestine during 1934–8, where he trained choirs at various kibbutzim, and taught Composition at the Conservatoire. In December 1938 he emigrated to the US, receiving American citizenship in 1944. Wolpe wrote several operas and cantatas and a lot of chamber music. During 1952-6 Wolpe composed a series of scores considered to be a high point of abstract expressionism: Enactments for Three Pianos (1953), Piece for Oboe, Cello, Percussion, and Piano (1955), and his Symphony (1956).
David Feldman (b Rio de Janeiro, 1977) is a Brazilian-Israeli Jazz and Bossa Nova musician, pianist , arranger, producer, composer and sound-engineer. At age 14, David moved to Israel, where he studied at the jazz dept of the Thelma-Yellin school (1992-96). In 2000 he went to study at the New School University, New York, at the Jazz and Contemporary Music Program, graduating in 2002. During this time he performed with Slide Hampton, Claudio Roditi, Duduka da Fonseca, Eli de Gibri and as guest of the Mingus Big Band. In 2003 David Feldman moved back to Brazil, where he works with his own trio and in solo piano performances, at several jazz festivals in Brazil and abroad. His several CDs have been praised by the critics, and singled out as “best albums of the year,” in 2014 and 2017, having won 4 stars from the American Jazz magazine DownBeat.
Graphic design: Myrna Herzog
Cover illustration: 'The whole world in a Cloverleaf' by Heinrich Bünting, 16th century, courtesy of the Eran Laor Cartographic Collection, The Jewish National & University Library, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Recording (24 bit digital): Eliahu Feldman and Ben Bernfeld
Editing and mastering: Ben Bernfeld
Recorded live on May 13, June 16 and 17, 2004 and April 15, 2005 at St. George’s Cathedral & St. Andrews Church in Jerusalem, the Raanana Performing Arts Center (by Eliahu Feldman), and on June 12, 2004 at the Madonna Church in Haifa (by Ben Bernfeld ).
We are indebted to British musicologist Virginia Brookes, who hand-copied for us the unpublished Psalm settings from manuscripts stored at Christ Church, Oxford. Also to Clifford Bartlett, Harold Copeman, Bar Ilan University, Ronen Berkovich, Judith Davidoff, Gideon Shamir, Gwendoline Thompson, Raanana Municipality, Jerusalem’s St. George’s Cathedral and St. Andrew’s Church, Haifa’s Madonna Church.
This project received the support of St Andrew’s Scottish Guest House, Jerusalem and
Israel’s Ministry of Science, Culture & Sport, Culture Directorate
P & © Myrna Herzog & PHOENIX 2007.
Launched on 30.05,2007
"Jerusalem was the common denominator of 22 pieces ranging from the Renaissance to the 20th century, presented by Ensemble PHOENIX directed by Myrna Herzog. There were many veritable gems in this selection, such as Renaissance and Baroque settings of "O Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem" by William Child, John Blow and Charles King. A fascinating selection and excellently performed". Ury Eppstein, The Jerusalem Post, Israel.