The Milken Archive of American Jewish Music has released a new recording of Yizkor Requiem—A Quest for Spiritual Roots, by Washington, D.C.-based composer, singer and choral conductor Thomas Beveridge. This intensely personal, ecumenical concert work, sung in Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin and English, juxtaposes and interweaves elements of the Jewish Yizkor and Roman Catholic Requiem liturgies, and musically expresses some of the shared themes of the two great Western religions and rituals. In the words of the composer, it "stands on the Sacred Bridge between them, and shows that in many ways the two faiths—and the two liturgies—express the same hopes and fears and ideas."
Frequently performed and widely acclaimed since its 1994 premiere, Yizkor Requiem combines liturgical texts from the yizkor and Requiem liturgies with excerpts from Hebrew daily and holy day prayers, Psalms, and classic Christian supplications such as the Lord's Prayer. To point up the nexus between the two religions and the interdependence of Church and Synagogue in the early years of Christianity, the composer focuses particularly on the relationship of specific words in the Latin Mass to their Hebrew sources and counterparts. This connection is exemplified by the title itself: the Hebrew phrase yizkor elohim nishmat means "May God remember the soul"; the equivalent Latin phrase in the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass is Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine—"Grant them eternal rest, Lord." The cantata also includes a setting of the 23rd Psalm, frequently used in the memorial services of both traditions, and in the final movement, the Hebrew Mourner's Kaddish and the Christian Lord's Prayer are sung simultaneously.
In this performance, Sir Neville Marriner conducts the Academy and Chorus of St. Martin in the Fields, with soprano Ana María Martínez, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Shammash, tenor Robert Brubaker, and Rabbi Rodney Mariner as speaker.
This recording complements two previously released Milken Archive CDs of interfaith and multicultural works: Dave Brubeck's The Gates of Justice (released January 2004), a cantata based on Jewish biblical and liturgical texts, the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Negro spirituals that underscores the shared experiences and aspirations of Jews and American blacks; and David Diamond's Ahava (Brotherhood), (released April 2004), a celebration of the ideals of freedom, justice and opportunity that American Jews have enjoyed for more than three centuries, ideals that should be pursued as the universal birthright of all mankind
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