Miriam Ahuvat-El 2006│Ozi v’Zimrat Yah • Shiviti
Miriam Ahuvat-El is a Jerusalemite, singer, composer, poet and psalmist. She grew up in a Hasidic family, absorbing their passion and joyous spirit, but embarked on a long search for her own spirituality which led her to become a pioneer in the Jewish Renewal movement in Israel. In her development as a singer, she has come to value the method of gilui ha-kol (unfolding/discovering the voice). She creates music in a diversity of styles and instrumentation, infusing ancient Jewish texts with her individual spirit and faith. Her latest CDs are The Beloved – Devotional Songs to God and Ways of Peace. www.cdbaby.com/cd/miriamai
Sariel Beckenstein 2006│Tefilah ‘Atikah
A native of Tel Aviv and a resident of New York City since 1985, Sariel Beckenstein has been composing since the age of 18. His professional acting debut was in Fiddler on the Roof with the Cape Town Opera Company in 1984. He can be heard on the soundtrack of the DreamWorks feature film, The Prince of Egypt. He has performed his one-man musical biography, The Songs That I Shlepped, in Israel and New York. He has served as cantorial soloist at congregations Beth Simchat Torah in Manhattan, and Tehillah in Riverdale, New York. His passion for the music of Israel has led him to perform with lyricistsYoram Tehar Lev and Ehud Manor, and at recent tributes to Manor, Naomi Shemer, and Uzi Hitman. He is well known as an Israeli dance leader and teacher, and has been performing at weddings and other simchas since 1998.
Natan Berenshteyn 2006│ Le Dor va Dor
Natan Berenshteyn was born in Kishinev, Moldova and started to play piano at about age 6. He graduated from Kishinev College of Music in classical piano, and from Moldova State Institute of Art with a graduate degree in jazz piano and conducting. He also received degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University in Music Education (undergraduate) and classical piano (graduate). For the past seven years he has been choral director at Congregation Beth Ahabah in Richmond, Virginia.
David Berkenbilt 2006│ Hanukkah, Nes Gadol • Hanukkah Light
David Berkenbilt began creating musical arrangements while a member of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School a cappella choir. He is a 1962 graduate of Georgetown Dental School with an MS in pediatric dentistry from Northwestern University. While in private practice in northern Virginia, he sang with The Choral Arts Society of Washington and several area synagogue choirs. Then, inspired by a music theory class he attended on visiting day at his son’s college, he decided to return to school, graduating in 1995 from George Mason University with a degree in composition. Now retired from dentistry, he spends much of his time in theater. He also sings with the Ohr Kodesh Chorale under the direction of P’nina McCabe, where his setting of Ki Hiney Ka Khomer has been heard during the High Holidays. His string quartet was a winner in the Prince Georges Symphony 30th Anniversary Chamber Music Competition. Hanukah Lights and Hanukah Nes Gadol won awards in the Amadeus Choir of Toronto’s annual Christmas/Chanukah song competition.
Emil Berkovits 2004│ The Peace of Jerusalem • Avinu Shebashamayim
Born in Czechoslovakia, Cantor Emil Berkovits represents the fifth generation of cantors in his family. As a child soloist, he performed in concerts, operas, and the Yiddish theater, and with his father and brother in concert. Educated at McGill University Conservatory ofMusic, he attended and later taught at Mishkan T’fillah Academy’s Cantorial School. He writes much of his own music, and influences on his work, besides his father, are Hazzanim Moshe Koussevitzky andJoshua Weider. Cantor Berkovits has held positions in Chicago, Montreal, and Omaha and now serves Temple Israel in Swampscott- Marblehead, Massachusetts. He is a member of the Cantors Assembly of America, where he received his commission in 1985, and in 1994 was designated as honorary Fellow of the Cantors Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Andrew Bleckner 2006│ Psalm 116
Andrew Bleckner studied composition with George Crumb at the University of Pennsylvania, and received a PhD in composition in 1995. While there he also received the Paul Rochberg Fellowship, and The Helen L. Weiss Prize for Vocal Music. Currently he is Resident Composer for the Singing City chorus of Philadelphia. Around 1994, he began a spiritual and artistic transformation inspired by the writings of Rabbis Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Michael Lerner. Since then, his primary musical inspiration has come from sacred texts. His setting of Psalm 150 has been performed throughout the US including venues such as the 2006 American Choral Directors Association Southern Convention and the Zamir Chorale of Boston 2006 Spring Concert. His setting of Psalm 42 recently received Honorable Mention in both the Vanguard Premieres Choral Composition Contest and the First Annual Meistersingers Choral Composition Competition. He has received composition awards, grants, and fellowships from ASCAP, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the American Composers Forum, the University of Pennsylvania, and the MacDowell Colony. www.andrewbleckner.com
Fred Blumenthal 2004│ Ashrei
Fred Blumenthal, a native of St. Louis, studied composition with Karel Husa and choral music with Gregg Smith at Ithaca College in the mid-1960s. Returning to St. Louis, he attended Washington University, where he studied composition, music education and choral conducting before completing a Ph.D. in musicology and writing a dissertation on the history of music in St. Louis. He has taught in inner-city public schools, has taught piano privately, and has been active in synagogue and church choir directing, piano and harpsichord technology, radio announcing, and newspaper criticism. Fred is vice-president of the St. Louis Circle of Jewish Music and is a former vice-president of the Guild of Temple Musicians.
Carol Boyd Leon 2004│ Shalom ‘Aleikhem
Carol Boyd Leon is a composer, cantorial soloist, and choir director. She is music specialist at Gesher Jewish Day School, Olam Tikvah Preschool, Beth Emeth Early Childhood Center, Keshet Child Development Center, and Beth El Hebrew Congregation Religious School, Alexandria. She serves as Tot Shabbat Leader at Beth El Hebrew Congregation and Congregation B’nai Tzedek and as cantorial soloist at Greenspring Village, Springfield. The founding and current director of the Olam Tikvah (adult) Chorale, Kol NoVa Community Youth Choir, Harmoniyah of Gesher Jewish Day School, and the Beth El Hebrew Congregation Youth Choir, she instituted NoVaShir, a multi-age choral festival based in Northern Virginia. Her publications include Songs from the Heart: Family Shabbat, Jewish Life Cycle, and Gan Shirim.