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Over the weekend, Jews at Passover Seder tables around the world uttered the phrase “next year in Jerusalem,” celebrating the idea that all members of the faith will one day share the holiday together in Israel. While the trip to Zion may not be attainable for everyone, it is now even easier to experience the feeling through music. The Milken Archive’s Volume 8: Sing Unto Zion! In Praise of a National Jewish Home, which will be released April 10, concentrates on composers’ intense connection with the Jewish homeland. Examples include Leonard Bernstein’s Four Sabras, which depicts a quartet of Israeli characters through a series of jewel-like piano miniatures, and his emotionally charged Ḥalil (Flute), which is dedicated to a young Israeli flutist who was killed during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Hear a preview.
The impressively detailed cover art on all Milken Archive volumes comes via the creative mind of Georgia-based artist Ralph Gilbert. Those who appreciate his richly evocative depictions now have the chance to see them in real form. From April 9 to 24, 2012, visitors to UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture may view Not So Still Life, With Music: The Milken Archive of Jewish Music Presents Paintings by Ralph Gilbert. The exhibit is in conjunction with the premiere of the Violins of Hope at the UNC Charlotte Center City Building in Charlotte, NC. In exhibition and performance for the first time in North or South America, the Violins of Hope represents 18 violins recovered from the Holocaust by Israeli violinmaker Amnon Weinstein. Learn more about the Violins of Hope project.
More romanticist than modernist, yet fully conversant with 20th-century developments, Ruth Schonthal's music includes many elements of European musical traditions, Mexican folk music, aleatoric music, and occasional nods to minimalism. Schonthal, whose family fled Germany to escape Nazi persecution, composed A Bird over Jerusalem in response to the clashing religious and territorial interests that have long characterized life in the Jewish state. The piece draws upon Jewish, Arabic, and Christian music; and it veers from haunting to lyrical to violent. As Schonthal explains in a video interview with Neil W. Levin, artistic director of the Milken Archive, the titular bird is one that flies over the ancient city "not quite understanding why people who believe in the same God can be so at odds."