Happy New Year 2018


Esta Montaña D’enfrente
Music for Warming the Heart

We made it! 2018, a new moment, a new breath. Shall we stride in together? Shall we linger a little longer contemplating next steps? Let’s do both, eat it all up, each moment of living, while also learning more about pacing, how to respect the natural flow of expansion and contraction that is the absolute necessity and truth of creative process. Let’s listen more deeply and let the wisdom of our hearts lead the way. They are so wise, my heart and yours.  So many things I want for us, ease, wholeness, joy, health… and music, of course, lots of music. The exploration towards a new album has begun and within it there are many questions. What direction should/will/does it need to go? “Patience,” I tell myself, “creation takes patience.” So for now, from the midst of the not knowing, I am happy to share this gem with you, one that I know will be on the album for sure, Esta Montaña D’Enfrente — This Mountain Before Me. This is one of my favourite songs, a traditional Sephardic melody in Ladino. The video was shot at Koerner Hall in Toronto by Jake Roels with Justin Gray and Aaron Lightstone.

 

RECAP/SINCE WE LAST MET 

The Jewish Radio Hour - where I got to play Molly Picon, Yiddish theatre and film star (1898-1992)

France. Sufficeth to say… cheese, crèpes, sunflowers and Rodin.


Music für das Ende — photo by Claire Harvie, as seen in the New York Times

Musik für das Ende with Soundstreams and Crow’s Theatre.

I was cast in May and the work went on from August all the way to November. The project was a staging of two pieces by New Music composer Claude Vivier (1948-1983). Vivier’s work was radically innovative when written and still holds so much potency in terms of the ‘democratic’ (quoted from conversations with Fides Krucker) nature of the singers’ interactions, the sharing of atonal musical space, his faith and tension with religion, fear of death, sense of humour and creative genius. I kept wondering how I got the gig and if they realized how little I knew about what we were trying to achieve. But I did it. We did it. I am honoured to be part of this group of mostly classical musicians, 10 singers, 1 actor and 3 instrumentalists. It has been the hardest professional work to date, taking me three months of serious study to learn and memorize the pieces. It was humbling in every moment, forcing me into much needed remedial studies in rhythm and intervals. I didn’t realize that I needed Claude to help me up my musicianship, but I did. Word about European tours to follow.


the cast of Musik taking a break 

 

 

In the middle of the Musik process, I took my annual pilgrimage to San Francisco for three weeks of preparation and leadership of the Beth Sholom High Holyday Prayer Lab. I reunited with music mate Aharon Bolsta to create what turned out to be a deeply moving community building heart odyssey.

 

After Musik, I joined the eight member ensemble of I-I, the Israeli/Iranian Musical Initiative, led by Noam Lemish as a guest for a concert at the exquisite Aga Khan Museum. This experience was like a warm bath of lyrical, soul music following the starkness of the Vivier. It was also my first chance to sing in Farsi. The ensemble is comprised of sweet souls whose generosity in welcoming me was matched only by the virtuosity of their musicianship. A complete pleasure.


 

In December, I had the treat of hanging out and playing for a weekend with my Jaffa Road buddies in New Jersey, returning just in time to celebrate the screening of the documentary Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas. Funny, entertaining, educational and sweet. There is a lot I didn’t know about the content of so many of the Christmas Tunes written by Jews. Jason and Liam, producers of Riddle Films always surround themselves with a great team that was led for this by the warmth and vision of director Larry Weinstein. So many great musicians contributed to this piece. Justin Gray and I offered up our interpretation of Do You Hear What I Hear? It is truly a beautiful piece, dynamically envisioned and finely rendered, the perfect team effort. I hope you can catch a screening either online or in person.

 

Lastly but certainly not least, I got to travel with my dear friend Miriam Margles to Philadelphia to be on the team that midwifed her first album. Miriam has been a composer for at least 15 years, her music sung and enjoyed around the Jewish world. It is only time when it is time and it was really the perfect time. What a gift to be able to witness this adventure from up close as a friend, fellow singer, coach and a leader and arranger for the singing ensemble. The music is spacious and joyous. I can’t wait for you to hear it and mostly for Miriam’s brilliance to be known in full far and wide.

 

LOOKING FORWARD/
JANUARY TO JUNE

Two exciting teaching projects are underway.

ONE — The first ever Toronto Jewish Leadership Mindfulness Course. In January, a small group of brave souls and I will begin a course of study that will have us meeting in person twice a month as well as two other times for smaller group meetings and study. With time for instruction and reflection, we will sit and sing renewing/discovering our relationship with our individual spiritual practices. I am excited and honoured to have the responsibility of leading such a fine group of Rabbis, Cantors, Spiritual Leaders and Educators and doing so in such a nuanced and intimate practice. This is a great opportunity for me to lean into my own practice and trust the learning  and the honing of that learning that I have been doing in these realms of song and silence for many years.

TWO — I completed my Meditation Teacher Training through the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Now I am thrilled to be joining IJS as a guest teacher for an online Prayer Module in June. The wonderful Rabbi Sam Feinsmith invited me to team up to create a new class, wrestling with questions around the voice in prayer, the voice as prayer. This exploration is offering me an opportunity for integration of the parts of myself and my work that I often need to separate as I interact in the world. In this conversation, voice and prayer are one. Sam is steeped in Torah and Chassidut. I soak up this learning and share my experience of the voice in return. Feels good to have something to share that is now foundational in my body. This is one of those times where experience is truly valued.

 

Teaching/Leading Ongoing

Continuing from January through to June

— Private voice classes
— B’nai Mitzvah/Jewish ritual study with all ages
— neySHEV Friday morning sits at Makom. Fridays starting January 19th, 7:45 am – 8:45 am.
— Mindfulness Minyan, Shabbat mornings monthly, Beth Sholom, March, April and May

I honour my teachers in both practices of Heartfulness and Voice Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg and Fides Krucker. How much they intersect!

 

Gospel Sunday Returns

Or more like, I get to return to Ken Whiteley’s Gospel Sunday.
Featuring Ken, Dave Wall, Lenka Lichtenberg, Joel Schwartz and Justin Gray.
Hugh’s Room. Sunday, January 28th.

 

 

UPCOMING MYSTERIES 

NEW RECORDING/ To be uncovered.

Thank you O.A.C. for funding the first stages. Timeline T.B.A, Wrestling with what needs to be sung and played, what traditional repertoire from Nona, and what originals and how they all fit together.

 
NEW FELLOWSHIP/ To be discovered.

Rising Song Fellowship First Cohort February, 2018 in Philly. There are four of these gatherings of 17 Jewish musician/prayer leaders from around the world. We are joining to share practices, questions, challenges, coming together to collaborate, incubate and create.


Recording collaborators — Joel, Aviva, and Justin

 

UPCOMING TRAVELS
March and April

OROT
Concert and Intensive Mindfulness Workshop, Chicago, IL

JEWISH MUSIC FESTIVAL and SUNY CANTON UNIVERSITY
Concerts, Potsdam, NY

JEWISH MUSIC and the VOICE
Lecture/Concert, Kings College, London, ON

 

Aviva and Nona Flory on her 94th birthday at her home in Alexandria, Virginia.

 


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