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Gyora Novak: The Jews of York / Gyorak Novak, Rohan McCollough, narrators; Idit Arad, mzz.; Nicholas Hill, horn; David Watkins, harp et al.

Album Summary

>Novak, Gyora [Narrator] : The Jews of York, lament & kaddish, for narrator, mezzo-soprano, oboe, horn, cello, harp & percussio
Performer Composer

Notes & Reviews:

The lament is a 36 part text, set to music, recited and sung in Hebrew. It is in 18 parts for male baritone speaking and 18 parts for female mezzo soprano singing. Gyora Novak chose five instruments to accompany the lament and devised an "emotional graph" to guide the listener through the build-up to the agonizing climax and on to the resolution towards understanding, forgiveness, remembrance and prayer. The celebrated harpist David Watkins collaborated with Gyora by writing the instrumental arrangements. He did so by adhering to Novak's melodies - the choice of instruments and the graph of progression devised by the artist himself. The Jews of York (Sh'maa!) was written to be performed only once, on the 805th anniversary of the tragedy. During the course of one day, the seventeenth of March 1190, all the Jews living in the city of York were killed. Attacks on Jews had begun six months earlier outside Westminster Abbey in London, during the coronation of Richard the Lionheart. Their entry into the abbey had been barred and the crowd realized that the Jews, who were identified by the yellow badges they wore, had lost their royal protection. The Jews, who had lived in York for many generations, were suddenly attacked by their neighbors. Seeking refuge, survivors fled to the Tower of York, leaving behind a trail of the dead and dying. Even the King's Guard, whose duty it was to protect the Jews, turned against them. All hope of survival vanished. After much deliberation, and after farewells and prayers, all the Jews committed suicide. It is probable that in a manner true to the tradition of their faith, adult males killing the women and children, then setting fire to the tower, and killed themselves. No trial was ever held. No-one was ever punished. No requiem was ever sung over the tower's smoldering ruin. There was no dirge, no lamentation. This Elegy gathers together the souls of the living and the dead in a covenant of sorrow and forgiveness.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: All Saints Chapel, Eastbourne, UK; Christchurch, Sutton, UK.


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Works Details

>Novak, Gyora [Narrator] : The Jews of York, lament & kaddish, for narrator, mezzo-soprano, oboe, horn, cello, harp & percussio
  • Performer: David Watkins (Harp)
  • Notes: All Saints Chapel, Eastbourne, UK; Christchurch, Sutton, UK
  • Running Time: 30 min. 21 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary