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Ten zemirot ‘ami is the second disc in the new “Contemporary Jewish Music” series of the Jewish Music Research Centre. This new series differs in character from the classic documentary series, “Anthology of Musical Traditions in Israel.” The discs do not aspire to compete with the proliferation of commercial recordings appearing under the label “Jewish music” in Israel and around the world. The main goal of the new series is to encourage experimental creativity drawing on Jewish sources—the same sources that the Centre labors to document, research and understand. In every living, breathing culture, every generation feels obligated to add something new to its capital. Composition of new melodies for piyyutim (liturgical poems), which had almost disappeared in the last generation, is a clear example of this type of undertaking. It sheds new light on ancient piyyutim that are still relevant to the community and can be brought back to life on the wings of the new melody. This is the guiding principle behind this publication.
The direct inspiration for this project is the excellent publication Mahzor Aram Zova: Order of prayers according to the costum of the Holy Congregation of Aram Zova (Aleppo/Haleb, Syria), a facsimile reproduction of the Venice edition of 5287/1527 printed in 5767/2007 by Yad Ha-Rav Nissim of Jerusalem, with the sponsorship of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation. This unique maḥzor contains many piyyutim composed by local poets and sung by the community during yearly and life cycle events.
Of the hundreds of piyyutim in the maḥzor, we chose twelve for which we commissioned new melodies. The work of composition was divided among ﬁve Israeli composers who are now involved in integrating the piyyut with the art of the Arabic maqam: R. David Menahem, Roni Ish-Ran, Yair Dalal, Elad Gabbai, and Elad Harel. Two paytanim active in Halabi synagogues in the United States joined the Israeli paytanim for performance of the piyyutim: David Shiro and Yehezkel Zion.
Performers: David Shiro, Yehezkel Zion, Rabbi David Menahem