Two New Tunes for the Seder

Nancy Abramson
Shabbat Hagadol | Pesah By :  Nancy Abramson Former Director of H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music. JTS Posted On Apr 7, 2017 / 5777 | דבר אחר | A Different Perspective | Holidays Prayer

I have fond memories of my grandfather at the head of the table, chanting the Haggadah straight through in Hebrew. My grandmother, mother, and aunts would be busy in the kitchen while all of us kids were fidgeting, waiting for our cue to sing Mah Nishtanah, the Four Questions. The night of the first seder was always magical for me, and still is, as I try to infuse the tradition with contemporary ideas and some new melodies.

The Torah teaches that the first seder took place on the eve of the exodus from Egypt. The Haggadah as we know it was compiled during the Mishnaic and Talmudic eras. In modern times, it is now customary to add contemporary readings to enhance the themes of the Haggadah. I would like to continue this process by adding new musical material. Please enjoy these recently composed settings of Dayenu and Vehi She’amdah.

The Dayenu is composed by Cantor Gerald Cohen, an adjunct professor in the H.L. Miller Cantorial School, and is from his Passover cantata V’higad’ta L’vincha (And you shall tell your child). It is performed by HaZamir: The International Jewish High School Choir, with Cantor Joel Caplan, also on our faculty, as conductor. (Read Cantor Cohen’s explanation of his composition.)

This setting of the piyyut Vehi She’amdah is by Israeli composer Yonatan Razel, arranged by Daniel Henkin and Cantor Richard Nadel (also on our faculty), and performed by H.L. Miller Cantorial School seniors Summer Greenwald-Gonella, Sarah Levine, and Isaac Yager at their Senior Recital in January.