Seeds of Song
JTS proudly presents an album of piyyutim found in Siddur Lev Shalem. The music was composed, adapted, and/or performed by JTS cantorial and rabbinical students in collaboration with Assistant Professor and Musician-in-Residence Dr. Galeet Dardashti. A project of the Office of the Provost and the Block/Kolker Center for Spiritual Arts.
This project originated in 2018 when I had the fortune of co-teaching a number of mystical piyyutim from Siddur Lev Shalem with Rabbi Jan Uhrbach at JTS. Despite my years of expertise in teaching and performing piyyutim, many of the texts she shared with me from the siddur were unfamiliar to me.
It occurred to me that many cantors, rabbis, and lay people might benefit from musical inspiration for these texts. I proposed offering a new course to teach students the history, culture, and music surrounding piyyutim and create the opportunity for them to present traditional and original musical settings for some of those in Lev Shalem.
Most of the pieces on this album are the fruits of the labors of the very talented JTS cantorial and rabbinical students from my course. They focused both on less familiar texts as well as those that might benefit from a new musical vision.
The album’s title, “Mishir Yeta Eshel”—a quote from the piyyut, “Yah Notein Binah”—eloquently captures our hope that the “Seeds of Song” impressively planted by our students will continue
to flower throughout our Jewish communities.
—DR. GALEET DARDASHTI
Attributed to the poet Nahum
13th c. | North Africa
Siddur Lev Shalem
“All the trees of paradise have changed from their widows’ garb and budded. Friends are glad and gay to see them in their splendid robes.”
One Shabbat, walking home through Central Park, I was stopped in my tracks by three bright pink trees, flowering from every inch of every branch. Truly, the trees had changed their widows’ garb and donned splendid robes! Pausing, I saw person after person, group after group, similarly reveling in these delightful trees.
This feeling of delight is at the core of Neird v’Kharkom, a perfect poem for Passover. “Crocus and lavender have sprouted in my garden . . . myrtle has blossomed and bloomed”—all is right with the world. My melody—which tries to capture the joy emanating from each line—was inspired by a Tuareg rock band from northern Mali and Algeria, where the piyyut‘s mysterious author, Nahum, may have spent time.
This album was supported by the Office of the Provost and the Block / Kolker Center for Spiritual Arts at The Jewish Theological Seminary. Special thanks to Rabbi Jan Uhrbach for constant guidance, support (financial and intellectual), editing, and for sharing her vast knowledge of Lev Shalem with students; to Cantor Nancy Abramson for her dedication and hard work throughout this long process; to past and present provosts Dr. Alan Cooper and Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz for helping to fund this endeavor; to Dr. Ray Scheindlin for enriching students’ understanding of piyyutim; and to Jhoshua Friedman for advising on the project.
Dr. Galeet Dardashti
CO PRODUCER | SOUND ENGINEER MIXING | MASTERING
Mission Sound, Brooklyn, NY
ASSISTANT SOUND ENGINEER
Jonathan Luke Young
Written by student composer/arranger of each song. Edited by Rabbi Jan Uhrbach and Dr. Galeet Dardashti.
ALBUM ART & GRAPHIC DESIGN
Jacob “Milk” Sandler
Deborah Sacks Mintz
Dr. Galeet Dardashti
Daniel Ori | Bass and Gimbri
Rich Stein | Percussion
Yoav Eshed | Guitar
Eran Sabo | Guitar
Marandi Hostetter | Violin
Megan Gould | Violin and Viola
Jacob Sandler | Recorder