The team of Piyut Bay Area includes instructor Yair Harel (Jerusalem), project co-leaders Rabbi Dorothy Richman and Dr. Francesco Spagnolo, and the Executive Director of Piyut North America, Eva Heinstein.
Yair Harel received a traditional Jewish education in Israel before going on to study zarb(Persian drum) in Israel and France with Roger Yshay and Daghmeshid Chemirani, tarand Persian classical music with Peretz Eliyhau, improvisation with André Hajdu, and Jewish-Andalusian Vocal traditions with Rabbis Meir Atiyah and Haim Louk. Over the last twelve years, he has focused on exploring, teaching and performing traditional Jewish music from North Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, taking a major part in numerous multimedia productions based on encounters between traditional and contemporary music, in Israel and abroad. He has been the artistic director of the Ben Zvi Piyut Vocal Ensemble since 2008, has led workshops and courses in traditional Jewish vocal music, Middle Eastern percussion and improvisation at The Hebrew University, the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, and The Jerusalem Academy High School for Music and Dance. In 2010 he created the New Jerusalem Orchestra. As one of the main figures behind the Piyyut scene that has revolutionized the face of Israeli musical culture, he is a founding member of the “Singing Communities Project,” the founder and the present Editor In chief of the “Invitation to Piyut” website, the artistic director of the Jerusalem Piyut Festival, and a co-founder of Piyyut North America. He is part of Tafillalt Ensemble, which in 2010 released a new album under John Zorn’s Tzadik label. Since 2013, he is the Hazzan and Musical director of congregation Zion in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Dorothy Richman teaches Torah throughout the Bay area. Formerly a pulpit rabbi in San Francisco at congregations Shaar Zahav and Beth Sholom, Dorothy also worked for several years at Berkeley Hillel. She has led trips for AJWS to Central and South America and Africa and is active in Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice.
Francesco Spagnolo, a multidisciplinary scholar focusing on Jewish studies, music and digital media, is the Curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life and a Lecturer in the Music Department at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as a host for the cultural programs of Italian National Radio (RAI) in Rome. Intersecting textual, visual and musical cultures, he actively contributes to academic, cultural heritage and archival institutions, and live and electronic media in Europe, Israel and the United States, frequently lectures at academic institutions worldwide, publishes on a variety of subjects, and curates exhibitions and digital programs. Francesco holds a Laurea in Philosophy from the University of Milan (1994) and a PhD in Musicology from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2007). He is the editor of the Italian edition of Imre Toth’s Palimpsest (1998 and 2003) and of the audio-anthology Italian Jewish Musical Traditions (Hebrew University, 2001 and 2006), the author of two books (Il ballo del camaleonte, 1999; Estetica delle situazioni estreme 2000), the co-author of The Jewish World (Rizzoli, 2014), and has written numerous articles and essays on philosophy, music, film and literature in academic journals, books and encyclopedias, including Rivista Italiana di Musicologia, the Encyclopedia Judaica, and the Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. More at bit.ly/spagnoloacht.
Eva Heinstein is an American Israeli ethnomusicologist and arts professional based in Boston, MA. In addition to her work with Piyut North America, Eva serves as Assistant Director of the Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department at the New England Conservatory. Prior to joining the NEC staff, Eva curated and produced public programs for the New Center for Arts and Culture, a Jewish presenter and cultural network in Boston. She holds an M.A. in Ethnomusicology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a B.A. from New York University in Musicology and Hebrew Literature. At Hebrew University, Eva was part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the Jewish Music Research Centre that developed the Thesaurus of Jewish Music, an e-resource for students, researchers and performers in the field of Jewish music. Eva has also served as co-chair of the CJP/PresenTense Social Entrepreneur Fellowship, which provides tools and connections to young innovators working to transform the Jewish community in Greater Boston.