Myriad of Ways to Express and Be Thankful

Image of Bernardo Feldman

To me, working with the diverse and talented group of composers that comprise the Max Helfman Institute has been a blessing. I’ve found myself working and re-working a variety of musical solutions to the setting of a short text (Psalm 19:14).

In the process, I’m learning that there is a difference between writing a piece for an audience that comes to a concert to listen, and a composition meant for a congregation that will participate in a spiritual service. 

If the melodies are meaningful and memorable to them, they might not just listen, but they might even sing along. And I can’t think of a more complimentary response to a composer’s efforts than to surrender one’s ideas so that they (if all goes well!) become the music that the congregation chooses for prayer and celebration.

My fellow composers have shown me a myriad of ways one can express and be thankful for the wonders of this spiritual life. We have shared ideas openly and we have humbly changed things where changes needed to be made to make the experience of a Shabbat service, cohesive, yet eclectic and refreshing, and where each of our contributions add to a meaningful whole.

This process has brought an appreciation for all types of liturgical music and it has broadened my perspectives on my own Jewish heritage (I never thought I’d write a song with King David as a lyricist… I hope he’s pleased with my work!). Thank you all for allowing me to be part of this unique creative opportunity!