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JMI Online: Jerusalem Orchestra East & West featuring Amir Benayoun and Kehilot Sharot
This week as part of the JMI Online concert series, singer Amir Benayoun and Kehilot Sharot perform a concert of Chabad Nigunim melodies with the Jerusalem Orchestra East & West.
Nigunim are the melodies that were composed and developed by the the admoriim, who were the successors of the founder of Chabad the Rebbe Admor HaZaken. This music had religious and liturgical meaning and so played a big part in the role of the lives of the chassidim of Eastern Europe. The place of music in Chabad is that it is the best way to cleanse yourself from the inside so that you are ready to have deep and meaningful prayer. Rebbe Admor HaZaken and the Admorim believed that if you play an instrument you are already in a higher place but the instrument has its own mechanical limitations and this is why singing is a higher state than playing an instrument. However, when you sing you have to stick to the lyrics which also limits you, therefore the niguniim are the highest place to be by cleansing is by singing a chant with (few or no words) and thus ready yourself for prayer from within.
The adaptation of the Nigunim to the musical language and structure of the Jerusalem Orchestra East and West is first started by the artistic direction of Principal conductor Tom Cohen. Then, singer Amir Benayoun gives these arrangements more depth as he searches out the musical similarities between the Freygish modes of Eastern European Jewish music and the maqams of Arabic and Eastern music. Giving this music a wider lateral scope for even more engagement across the spectrum of Jewish life. As the nigunim care sometimes sung by thousand of people simultaneously, Tom Cohen said: “We brought the Kelihot Sharot to; on one hand enhance the songs and give the textured choral harmonics but also the fullness and the feeling of a community singing together – and – on the other hand we brought this choir in to have our take on the religious aspect because usually it is only sung by men and we felt that it vital to include women centrally in Jewish musical life”
You can watch the performance at 7.30pm BST on our Facebook page.