“The Vienna Rite”
A Chamber Opera by Judith Berkson
featuring Yarn/Wire with guests Brian Chase and Angela Glass
and vocalists Ian Greenlaw, Bo Chang, Judith Berkson, Allyssa Lamb, Lana Cencic, Gavriel Savit and Aram Tchobanian
“The Vienna Rite” is the story of a new service composed in 1828 by Viennese cantor Salomon Sulzer in collaboration with Franz Schubert and other Viennese composers which sought to merge European music with synagogue chant. Sulzer, a young gifted cantor and trained composer was recruited to become Vienna’s chief cantor at the newly built Stadttempel and had a growing reputation for interpreting Schubert lieder in as meaningful a way as the cantorial arts. Sulzer was part of a reform movement that was developing and wanted to create a service that kept traditional melodies but embraced the harmonic principles of the music of his time found throughout the city’s opera houses, concert halls and churches. He wrote a new service and commissioned pieces of the Hebrew liturgy from friends Franz Schubert, Ignaz von Seyfriend and Joseph Drechsler to coincide with the dedication of the new temple in an ecumenical collaboration that’s now largely unknown. The service drew admirers to the Stadttempel throughout much of the 19th century including Edward Hanslick, Franz Liszt and the Emperor Franz Joseph.
The piece is written for 3 drummers 3 organists and 7 singers and features the chamber ensemble Yarn/Wire along with guests Brian Chase (Yeah Yeah Yeah’s) and Chi Chi Glass (Fulbright piano scholar). Ian Greenlaw plays Salomon Sulzer along with an ensemble that includes Judith Berkson (Kronos Quartet, City Opera Vox Festival), Bo Chang (Talea Ensemble, Argento Ensemble), Allyssa Lamb (Las Rubias del Norte),Lana Cencic (Flip Phillip) Gavriel Savit (Voca People) and Aram Tchobanian (New York Metro Vocal Arts Ensemble).
Support for this project was provided by the Six Points Fellowship, a Jerome Commission, the Foundation for Jewish Culture and made possible with major funding from the UJA Federation of New York. Funded also in part through New Music USA’s Metlife Creative Connections program.