by Diane Axler-Baum
The Omaha Chamber Music Society will present Inspired on Sunday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m., in the JCC Theater. This extraordinary concert features works by renowned composers who were not Jewish, but were inspired deeply by Jewish folk and liturgical traditions.
A varied program includes Maurice Ravel’s Kaddish for violin and piano; Sergei Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes for clarinet, piano and string quartet; and, by Max Bruch, Eight Pieces for Clarinet, Viola and Piano and Kol Nidrei for cello and piano.
Free and open to the entire Omaha community, the concert will last approximately one hour, followed by a dessert reception.
“We are thrilled to share chamber masterpieces that have transcended time, space and religion to achieve universal acclaim,” said Stacie Haneline, Executive Director of the Omaha Chamber Music Society.
“The expertise of top professional Omaha musicians will fully capture the beauty and intimacy of the selected works,” she added. The performers, all known to OCMS and Omaha Symphony audiences, are Carmelo Galante, clarinet; Anne Nagosky, violin; Jeffery King, violin; Thomas Kluge, viola; Paul Ledwon, cello; and Christi Zuniga, piano.
Ravel’s exquisite Kaddish is melodic and textured, combining shimmering impressionism with strong emotion to reflect the poignancy of the Kaddish prayer which praises God and proclaims the magnification and sanctification of His Name for all eternity. This deeply expressive music resonates with the power of the liturgical Kaddish.
Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes employs an interesting combination of clarinet, piano and string quartet. The composition grew from a notebook of Jewish folksongs Prokofiev received from a chamber group of Russian Jews touring the U.S. Stirred by the juxtaposition of joy and tragedy in these songs, the composer explored similar dynamics to create some of his most evocative chamber music.
Jewish folk music and sacred liturgical music both influenced Max Bruch. Exposure to the engaging melodies of Klezmer inspired his lively Eight Pieces for Clarinet, Viola and Piano. Visits to a synagogue, where a friend’s father served as cantor, sparked his response to the Kol Nidrei service that ushers in Yom Kippur. In Bruch’s mesmerizing concert version, the solo cello imitates the rhapsodic voice of the cantor, who leads the congregation through the emotional Kol Nidrei.
Underwriting by the Sokolof Javitch Music Fund is making Inspired possible. “We sincerely appreciate the Sokolof Javitch Music Fund’s continued support of the chamber works we bring to the Jewish Community Center,” Haneline said. “Last year’s standing-room-only concert was gratifying to everyone involved, and we look forward to another large audience for our next program.”
In connection with the Feb. 16 concert, the Music Fund is providing the means for OCMS to offer music as a public service. Musicians will perform a shortened version of the concert at the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home and will make a presentation, based on the program’s works, to students at Friedel Jewish Academy.
More information on the OCMS and Inspired is available at 402.960.6943 or omahachambermusic.org.