Categorized | Wingard_Eileen

When a song leader corrected the composer

By Eileen Wingard

Eileen Wingard

LA JOLLA, California–Marc Lavry is one of the composers whose song “Emek” will be sung by the Congregation Beth Israel Sabbath and Festival Choir at the 4:00 performance of “Sing Out!” on April 3 at the Lawrence Family JCC. Sharon Russakoff, who will be singing in both the San Diego Jewish Women’s Choir/Sisterhood Shira and the Congregation Beth Israel Sabbath and Festival Choir, has been in contact with Lavry’s daughter, Efrat Lavry Zaklad, and tells the following about Lavry.

Within his first year in Israel, Marc Lavry,the Riga-born, conductor and composer, wrote several pieces integrating the art song and folk genres. His first song was Shir ha Emek (Song of the Valley), to the lyrics of Rafael Eliaz.  It became an immediate hit. He later developed this song into a symphonic poem. Titled Emek, it was premiered by what was then the Palestine Symphony Orchestra—the first time the orchestra programmed a work by a member of the  y’shuv– and was later included in the first world tour of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz dubbed it the “first symphonic hora.”

Although Eliaz’ lyrics describe the landscape of the Emek (Jezreel Valley), the pioneers plowing the fields by day and  dancing the Hora by night, Lavry had not yet seen the Jezreel Valley and decided to take a bus trip there. On the bus, as was customary in those days, the bus riders joined in a loud sing-along. To Lavry’s delight, they sang his new song, but the end of the first phrase was sung incorrectly. The same thing happened on the way back with another group. This time, Lavry approached the sing-along leader and pointed out the mistake. The leader gave Lavry a pat on the back and said, “Come on, the composer is a friend of mine and I know the right tune.”
    
Being a newcomer to Israel, Lavry realized that his version was not the natural melodic progression to the Israeli ear. He decided not to reveal his identity to the sing-along leader and changed his score.

The 1:00 pm performance will feature the Adult, Menschtones (Men’s Barbershop) and Youth Choirs from Temple Adat Shalom, the San Diego Men’s Choir, the Temple Solel Junior Choir and the J Company’s On the Town.
    
The 4:00 pm performance will feature the San Diego Jewish Women’s Choir/Sisterhood Shirah, the San  Diego Jewish Men’s Choir, Congregation Beth Israel Sabbath and Festival Choir and their Teen and Youth Choir. Each program will conclude with the combined choirs led by TICO Conductor David Amos and accompanied by Rhoda Gaylis in an arrangement of Y’rushalayim by Cantor Henri Goldberg, the Pesach song, L’Shana Haba’a, and concluding with the Paul Ben-Haim arrangement of Hatikvah.  

An added footnote: David Amos, conductor of the Tifereth Israel Community Orchestra, who will be conducting the combined choirs at both performances of Sing Out! was the first to record Marc Lavry’s “Emek.” That recording, made in 1990, was with the London Symphony and Lavry’s daughter Efrat, a professional harpist, attended the recording session.
     
Tickets for “Sing Out!” are available via tThe box office: 858-362-1348.

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Wingard is a former violinist with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and is a freelance music writer based in San Diego. She may be contacted at [email protected]

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