(1989, organ/percussion arrangement 2015)
Shacharit (Morning Service) interprets the form and content of the Sabbath morning synagogue service. While conceived as a concert setting of the texts, the harmonic/melodic structure contain references to the traditional Eastern European prayer modes of the service.
Baruch She’amar (Blessed is the One who spoke and the universe came into being) expresses the mysterious vibratory force of the Infinite, embodied in Creation. The tenor and chorus enter in the traditional prayer mode (minor triad with descending fourth), which the organ then takes over, building to the climactic choral Kol Haneshama (All who breath praise the Creator, 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 Bar’chu (You shall bless), 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 on Zion…) 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), an affirmation of all- encompassing unity, 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 God, 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. Angelic choirs call back and forth Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh (Holy, Holy, Holy…) amidst hints of the kol haneshama rhythm and its sustained counter melody amidst liquid ripples of marimba. The glockenspiel suggests the major triad used when this portion is chanted aloud.
Upon returning from this intimate encounter with the Eternal, holy energy channels through the body with boundless joy and exultation. The Kaddish (glorification of the Holy name) becomes an extroverted dance of syncopated interplay between chorus and soloists, with percussive punctuation. A dramatic sustained Amen makes way for the gentle coda which repeats the last line of the Kaddish: Oseh shalom…(Maker of peace). Soothing counterpoint provides closure for this spiritual journey with a prayer for peace.
— Meira Warshauer
Information about the original orchestra version of Shacharit here.
Also available: Kaddish and Oseh Shalom with piano and percussion, and Oseh Shalom for SATB, a cappella.