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NAXOS TO RELEASE LEONARD BERNSTEIN’S KADDISH SYMPHONY AND CHICHESTER PSALMS FROM THE MILKEN ARCHIVE OF AMERICAN JEWISH MUSIC SEPTEMBER 20th

Recording by Gerard Schwarz and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir launches third year of landmark CD series on Naxos’ American Classics 

To celebrate the third year of the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music, Naxos is releasing a new recording on September 20th of Leonard Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony No. 3 and Chichester Psalms with Gerard Schwarz leading the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Yvonne Kenny (soprano), and Willard White (speaker). 

The rarely-recorded Kaddish Symphony, dedicated to John F. Kennedy, was originally commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, who performed the American premiere with Charles Munch in January 1964.  The piece received its world premiere in Tel Aviv in December 1963 with Bernstein conducting the Israel Philharmonic.  Bernstein completed a final authorized version, the basis of the Milken Archive recording, in 1977.

In the Kaddish Symphony, perhaps more than in any of his other compositions, Leonard Bernstein combined his Jewish spiritual roots and his lifelong concern for the plight of a floundering humanity.  A non-liturgical concert work with marked theatrical overtones, the Kaddish Symphony draws on two aspects of Judaism—the Kaddish (“sanctification”) prayer of praise and affirmation and the Hassidic image of a candid dialogue with God—to address the threat of nuclear annihilation and society’s spiritual and moral self-destruction from ignorance and intolerance.    

Chichester Psalms, a setting of Psalm texts for chorus, boy soloist, and orchestra, is alternately exuberant and lyrical.  Commissioned by England’s Chichester Cathedral, premiered almost exactly forty years ago, and firmly ensconced in the Western canon, this work reflects the ecumenical spirit of the 1960’s and embodies the composer’s most accessible style. 

The new CD, released in advance of the Jewish High Holy Days, complements the Milken Archive’s 2003 release Leonard Bernstein, A Jewish Legacy, featuring the composer’s lesser-known early Jewish-related compositions, which The Newark Star Ledger called “the most illuminating Bernstein recording in years.”

The Milken Archive of American Jewish Music (www.milkenarchive.org), founded in 1990 by Milken Family Foundation chair Lowell Milken, covers the entire range of Jewish musical expression in America in the context of the American Jewish experience.  Over a three-year period, 50 CDs are being released, comprising more than 600 sacred and secular works, all newly recorded by outstanding artists. 

Naxos distributes the Milken Archive recordings as part of its American Classics series, the most ambitious recording project of American music ever undertaken.  The Milken Archive recordings, introduced in North America in September 2003, have been distributed internationally since November 2004. 

LEONARD BERNSTEIN (1918-1990): Kaddish Symphony; Chichester Psalms

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, Gerard Schwarz

Yvonne Kenny, soprano; Willard White, speaker

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7:21:04 AM, 12 July 2014
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