Wednesday, November 9, 2022, at 7:30 pm the sanctuary at Temple Shaaray Tefila was completely full in anticipation of the World Premiere performance of Voices. The audience was welcomed by Rabbi Wilfond and composer Michael Shapiro (also a congregant of TST) for a brief and passionate introduction to Michael’s composition, Voices of the Holocaust. As Rabbi and Michael were seated, the audience was in awe as the American Modern Ensemble walked solemnly down the aisle humming the first movement of Voices.
Soloist, Daniel Mutlu, a tenor and Cantor for Central Synagogue in NYC, pierced the heart of every soul in the room with his passion and breathtakingly pure voice throughout the performance.
Each member of the ensemble from conductor Deborah Simpkin King to the Ember Choral Arts and American Modern Ensemble brought the Shaaray Tefila sanctuary to life with the memories of so many lost in the Holocaust. It will be a performance the audience will continue to hear in their hearts and want to return to over and over. Michael’s composition has so many levels, the piece deserves to be explored over and over.
The performance was made possible by the Shaaray Tefila Holocaust Remembrance Committee, led by Lori Laub. Then followed by a reception in the Jewish Heritage Hall for the audience to have a chance to meet with Michael and the artists in person.
Additional details about the performance from the original press release follow:
The World Premiere of Michael Shapiro’s VOICES took place at Temple Shaaray Tefila of Northern Westchester on November 9, 2022 which is the remembrance day of Kristallnacht. This performance featured 35 performers including Daniel Mutlu, the Senior Cantor of Central Synagogue in New York City, Ember Choral Arts, and the American Modern Ensemble, conducted by Deborah Simpkin King. The co-world premiere of the work occured the next day, November 10, 2022, at Central Synagogue.
The concept for VOICES was born more than twenty years ago when Michael Shapiro served as Music Consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. After reading poetry by Sephardic victims during the Shoah, he wrote the hour-long choral and chamber ensemble as a requiem: “not solely [as] a work of remembrance, but as a warning.” The composition is varied in tone and includes hints of cabaret, religious observance, and transcendent echoes that reflect the international impact of the Holocaust on Jewish people from different countries. According to Shapiro, “the composition delivers an ending that bespeaks longing for a Jewish homeland, through which the voices of those stilled by evil and tyranny will be heard.”
The performance marks a creative collaboration between the internationally recognized Ember Choral Arts (formerly Schola Cantorum on Hudson), which has served the Manhattan and New Jersey areas since its founding in 1995, and the American Modern Ensemble (formed by Victoria and Robert Paterson) which spotlights contemporary music via lively programming and performs a wide repertoire, using a robust combination of instrumentalists, vocalists, and conductors.
About the Composer
Michael Shapiro guest conducts internationally and is Laureate Conductor of The Chappaqua Orchestra. He has written over 100 works for orchestral, theatrical, film, chamber, choral, and vocal forces. His music has been performed by many of the world’s great orchestras and performers in North America and Europe, and much of his music is recorded and available on major platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. His music is regularly broadcast throughout the world, including SiriusXM, National Public Radio, BBC, CBC, ABC-Australia, Polskie Radio, and over 50 commercial radio stations in North America. His score for the classic film Frankenstein is his most popular work and has been performed over 50 times internationally including the upcoming premiere of the new operatic version at the LA Opera. For more information, please visit www.MichaelShapiro.com
About the Performance
Daniel Mutlu is Senior Cantor of Central Synagogue. A first-generation American born to Turkish Jewish parents, he has earned glowing reviews from The New York Times as a member of NYC’s The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and has performed with many premier musical ensembles including the Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, Ars Lyrica, Houston Bach Society, Alarm Will Sound, and Park East Synagogue Choir. He can be heard as tenor soloist on the Naxos eight-disc set of the Complete Haydn Masses, Requiem: For the Living, Music Omnia and The Choir of Trinity Wall Street’s release of Handel’s Israel in Egypt (nominated for a Grammy Award). Mutlu tours internationally as the main soloist of the Night Holocaust Project. His singing has been featured in films such as The Song of Names and A Cantor’s Head.
Deborah Simpkin King serves as the conductor and founding Artistic Director of Ember, Director of Music and Arts at the historic Trinity Episcopal Church in Asbury Park, NJ, conductor at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, and MidAmerica Productions. She plays an active role in the vibrant Manhattan choral scene and is committed to serving the next generation in the arts through guest conducting, published work, and education initiatives. Dr. King is at the leading edge of the new music industry, working with composers and young singers through the Big Sing Jr. PROJECT: ENCORE which she founded.