Conceived as a piece for voices, guitar and electronics but still undergoing evolution in the creative process, and composed for three brilliant women’s voices in contemporary Jewish music (Cantor Judith Berkson, Yuli Yael Be’eri and Cantor Rachel Weston), In the Women’s Synagogue is a new piece of vocal music Jeremiah is writing as part of his year as a fellow at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. The texts and musical language of the piece will draw on the legacy of Jewish women’s sacred practices. The collection of images that Jeremiah is spinning into music span a terrain of memory, fantasy and history, drawing on sources ranging from Eastern European folklore, to Yiddish women popular music performers of the early 20th century, to the New York immigrant world of his grandmother, to the music of Jewlia Eisenberg, a beloved friend and pioneering Jewish musician who passed away in 2021. The title of the piece refers to the unusual women’s synagogues of medieval Germany. The event imagines the musical life of the sacred space unspooling across centuries as a source of blessings and transformative stories.
The concert premieres at Yale on April 1 and will also be performed on April 2 at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in New York City in collaboration with The Neighborhood: An Urban Center for Jewish Life. View details.
Yuli Yael Be’eri’s professional career as a performer began at the age of 9, singing Do re mi from The Sound of Music for Shimon Peres, the President of Israel, not her last command performance for heads of state. She went on to star in Israeli film, television, and advertising campaigns, before moving to New York City to pursue a career as a musician. In her years in New York, she has fronted major rock acts, played bass at international music festivals, founded an independent non-for-profits arts and production organization, all while pursuing a path as composer, arranger, and new media creator. Yuli continues to expand her creative horizons, meeting the challenges of the pandemic period with a host of new internet-based projects.
Judith Berkson is a mezzo-soprano, pianist and composer living in Los Angeles, California. She studied voice with Lucy Shelton and composition with Joe Maneri at the New England Conservatory. She received her MA in composition from Wesleyan University and is currently pursuing a doctorate as a performer/composer at CalArts. She has collaborated with Kronos Quartet, Wet Ink, Yarn/Wire and City Opera and has presented work at Picasso Museum Malaga, Roulette, Le Poisson Rouge, Joe’s Pub, The Stone, Barbès and the 92 Street Y. She has received a Six Points Fellowship, a Jerome Foundation grant, Meet The Composer grant, New Music USA funding and support from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her solo album “Oylam” (ECM Records) was called “Standards and Schubert and liturgical music, swing and chilly silences, a beautiful Satie-like piece to open and close the record” by Ben Ratliff of the New York Times. Her latest work, the chamber opera Partial Memories premiered at the NODO Festival in Ostrava, Czechia in June 2022. It was dedicated to forgotten female artists Janet Sobel and Mary Gartside and featured the Ostravská Banda.
Jeremiah Lockwood is a scholar, singer, guitarist and composer. He holds a PhD from Stanford University in Education and Jewish Studies, where his dissertation fieldwork focused on young Chassidic cantors in Brooklyn and is currently a Fellow at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. His musical career began with years of playing guitar with blues musician Carolina Slim, and in synagogue singing with his grandfather Cantor Jacob Konigsberg. Lockwood is founder and frontman of The Sway Machinery, a group whose music the New Yorker has described as “unclassifiable and uplifting.” Lockwood has also recorded 14 albums, toured internationally, and been the recipient of numerous academic honors including the Salo Baron New Voices in Jewish Studies Award and the YIVO Kremen Memorial Fellowship in East European Arts, Music and Theater.
Rachel Weston is a London/New York based song collector, and performer of Yiddish song. She is a cantor in training at New York’s Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music, where she is the recipient of the Koret Foundation Scholarship and the Atara Scholarship for Merit. In the UK she has coordinated and taught Yiddish song and nigunim workshop programs for the Jewish Music Institute, SOAS, Kleznorth, Klezfest London, WOMAD festival, and the London Yiddish choir. She has performed and taught internationally, in Montreal, Toronto, New York, Weimar, Berlin and Krakow. Rachel is also a community workshop facilitator and leads music workshops for people with dementia and their caregivers. She serves as student cantor at Garden City Synagogue in Long Island and various Reform communities in the U.K.