Jewish Nightlife: An Evening of Celebration with Poetry and Music directed by Yair Harel, Featuring UC Berkeley Students and the Piyut Bay Area Project | The Magnes, 12.18.2014 5-8:30 PM

Jewish Nightlife is a multi-disciplinary exploration of the nexus between the ritual performance of Jewish texts and social changes across Jewish history, including Hebrew poetry, music, and synagogue liturgy in Europe, in North Africa, the Middle East, and present-day Israel.

Amulet (detail), The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley, 68.85

Amulet (detail), The Magnes Collection, 68.85

During the Fall Semester 2014, the project involved research, teaching, performance, and community participation. Thirty UC Berkeley undergraduate students participated in Jewish Nightlife, a new UC Berkeley course team-taught by dr. Francesco Spagnolo, Curator of The Magnes, and Yair Harel, Schusterman Visiting Artist.
During the same period, Piyut Bay Area, a group comprised of UC Berkeley and GTU scholars and students, cantors, rabbis, artists and educators from the San Francisco Bay Area met weekly at The Magnes, researching and performing piyyutim, or Hebrew liturgical poems.
To celebrate the completion of this project, the program will include solo and ensemble performances by UC Berkeley students (5-6 pm), and by participants in the Piyut Bay Area Project (7-8:30 pm), led by Yair Harel.

Thursday December 18, 2014 | 5:00 to 08:30 PM
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life |  2121 Allston Way, Berkeley | magnes.org

The program is free and open to the public. 

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Exploring Piyut: The World of Sacred Hebrew Song | Jewish Community Library, 11.20.2014 7PM

Piyutim (Hebrew liturgical poems), chanted for centuries across the Diaspora, have been adapted to different melodies, evolving into a form of “Jewish world music” in Europe, North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. This singing tradition, a core component of synagogue practice, has also entered secular life in Israel through public performances, workshops, and arts festivals. Yair Harel, active in the revival and contemporary interpretation of the ancient art of liturgical Hebrew poetry, will perform and teach a selection of these piyutim.

More information here.

Yair Harel and Tafillalt: Lamp of the Covenant | The CJM, 11.14.2014 Noon

In advance of this winter’s installation of Sacramento-based artist Dave Lane’s monumental sculpture, Lamp of the Covenant, The CJM will offer a free lunchtime concert featuring Israeli visiting artist Yair Harel and his innovative ensemble, Tafillalt. The group will present personal interpretations of Jewish texts through a selection of piyyutim (Jewish liturgical poems) that are complementary of the themes in Lamp of the Covenant including the ideas of creation, how the lamp signifies the presence of the divine, and how light embodies the human relationship with the cosmos.

More information here.

Piyut: Hebrew Poetry & World Music with Robert Alter, Yair Harel, & Tafillalt Ensemble | The Magnes 11.13.2014 7PM

Hebrew poems (piyyutim), chanted for centuries across the Diaspora, have been adapted to different melodies, evolving into a form of  “Jewish world music” with roots in Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Middle East. This singing tradition, a core component of synagogue practice, has also entered secular life in Israel through public performances, workshops, and performing arts festivals, and is now spreading to North America. The program will include words by Professor Robert Alter, and a performance of traditional and contemporary musical interpretations by Schusterman Visiting Artist Yair Harel and the Ensemble Tafillalt (Jerusalem).

The program is free and open to the public.

More information here.

Launching the Piyut Bay Area Pilot

We are excited to launch the Piyut Bay Area Pilot Project, a collaboration between Piyut North AmericaThe Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life (University of California, Berkeley), and the Israel Institute.

The project is led by a team that includes Jerusalem-based artist, Yair Harel, and co-directors Rabbi Dorothy Richman and Dr. Francesco Spagnolo. In the course of the Fall of 2014, they are joined by a group of 20 scholars, students, artists, community leader, from the entire San Francisco Bay Area.

The participants will meet weekly to learn together about piyyut, the singing of Hebrew liturgical poetry according to the many musical traditions of the global Jewish diaspora. At the end of the program, they will also present workshops and a public performance.