Baruch She’amar: “Blessed is the One who spoke and the universe came into being,” opens with a timpani roll expressing the creative force of the Word. The tenor and chorus enter in the traditional prayer mode (minor triad with descending fourth), which the orchestra then takes over, building to the climactic Kol Haneshama (all who breathe…from Psalm 150). The chorus’s rhythmic repetition uses a minimalist technique to convey the fervor and excitement (breath) of the text.
The call to public worship (Barechu), chanted with awe and reverence, uses an ascending major third and descending minor third, as in the traditional call and response. When the soprano moves into Or Chadash (“shine a new light…”) the mode changes to include the augmented second and the improvisatory rhythmic flow of the cantorial style for petition. Contrasting chromatic gestures from the vibraphone and other percussion hint at the mystery and wonder of this “new light.”
For the Sh’ma (listen/hear), the affirmation of faith, the mode modulates to major. The dramatic choral declamation is a resounding call: Sh’ma Yisrael Adoshem Elokeinu Adoshem Echad (“Hear, Israel, the Eternal is our G-d, the Eternal is One.”) The following dance-like movement is based on melodic motives used when chanting this portion from the Torah from Deuteronomy.
The Amidah, or standing silent prayer, is the heart of the service. Here the worshiper enters the holy realm to address the Eternal One. Murmuring winds and strings create an atmosphere of calm with inner joy. The angelic choirs call back and forth Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh (Holy, Holy, Holy…) amidst hints of kol haneshama (trumpets) and its sustained counter melody (horns) enhanced by liquid ripples of marimba and harp. The glockenspiel suggests the major triad used when this portion is chanted aloud.
When the worshiper returns from this intimate encounter with the Creator, there is boundless joy and exultation as the holy energy channels through the body. The Kaddish (glorification of G-d’s name) becomes an extroverted dance with syncopated interplay between the chorus and soloists and percussive punctuation from the orchestra. A dramatic sustained Amen makes way for the gentle coda which repeats the last line of the Kaddish: Oseh shalom…(Maker of peace). The soothing counterpoint provides closure for this spiritual journey with a prayer for peace.
— Meira Warshauer
Information about the organ/percussion arrangement of Shacharit here.