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This story by Barbara Fox was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper
on June 17, 1998. All rights reserved.
Victorious Music, But No Rejoicing
Every conflict has two points of view: the victors’
and the vanquished. When composer Moshe Budmor tells the Exodus story
of the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea, he wants everyone
to experience the emotions of the Egyptians as well as those of the
Israelites. Budmor will conduct the audience in chorus parts for each
his cantata, "The Crossing," part of a 75th birthday concert
on Sunday, June 21, at 3 p.m. at Bristol Chapel of Westminster Choir
Throughout his career Moshe Budmor has tried to involve
in the performance of music. With degrees in violin, choral
orchestral conducting, and composition from the Academy of Music in
Jerusalem, Juilliard, and Columbia, he was professor of music at the
College of New Jersey for 24 years. He now directs Lashir, the Jewish
Center’s community choir. He and his late wife Katya Delakova gained
international recognition for intensive multimedia workshops that
train amateurs to create remarkable, emotionally-layered theater
In "The Crossing" Budmor translates the Exodus passage into
what baritone Robert Freedman calls "a very modern, very powerful
musical idiom." Freedman, trained as an opera singer and a cantor,
is now the rabbi for the String of Pearls congregation, and he
that the listener will "see the story through Moshe’s musical
This may seem to be a mixed metaphor, but as Freedman notes,
what Moshe is about — releasing the inner being and putting it
out in whatever form the expression demands — whether instrumental
or vocal or even audience participation."
There will be a wide variety of forms and styles at this concert.
It opens with "A love song to my dear wife Lea," played by
his wife Lea Lerner, a pianist and Dalcroze teacher (see story page
32). Three Hebrew motets will be sung by Dawn Kyser, Linda Mindlin,
Jack Zamboni, and Brian Phipps. "Kabbalat Shabbat," a melodic
string quartet in which each movement is based on a traditional
song, will be performed by Sanford Allen, Dale Stuckenbruck, Leo
and Robert Martin. Freedman has a role in a Persian folk tale, along
with harpsichord player Rita Ash, recorder artist John Burkhalter,
and violinist John Banks. Eugene Roan is the organist and Phipps sings
the bass roles of Moses and the Divine Voice for the cantata.
"The Crossing" was commissioned by the Evangelical Church
of Germany for a convention in Hamburg in 1981; Budmor successfully
conducted that audience in the chorus roles. A gentle, witty, and
sprightly man, he has both a deep spirituality and great quantities
of energy; he will need to summon those plus all his powers of musical
persuasion to elicit the singing participation of the Bristol Chapel
Ever the humanitarian and peacemaker, Budmor does not end his cantata
with the triumphant shout of the Hebrews: "I will sing unto the
Lord for He has triumphed gloriously, the horse and his rider he has
thrown into the sea."
That did not feel right to him. "The Egyptians were also creatures
of God," he says. "Although they had to be destroyed for
it is still not cause to rejoice." And so, after the Israelites’
celebration, an angel of God appears to recite a "midrash,"
an old Rabbinic commentary that is poignant in its terseness: "My
creatures are being devoured by the sea, and you sing songs to
— Barbara Figge Fox
Bristol Chapel, 609-921-2663. Free; donations accepted for the Cancer
Research Fund of the Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Foundation.
June 21, 3 p.m.
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