Today I went with Sparkly

to the evening service for Yom Kippur.

  • I knew there was going to be a lot of chanting involved but I way underestimated how… melodic, it would be? There were two cantors and they did a couple of pieces together as duets that were utterly wonderful. Why do I have to have so many feelings about religious music from religions I don’t technically belong to? (including Christianity in this.)
  • I had assumed that having played Kol Nidrei by Max Bruch would not benefit me in understanding the service at all– joke’s on me, they had someone play it during the service. (with organ accompaniment instead of orchestra of course.) And then I got hear the cantor sing that same melody in its original habitat, so to speak, which was really cool.
    • The choir and the musicians were behind a barrier and I was kind of disappointed that I couldn’t see them.
  • I knew there were going to be torah scrolls with fancy decorations on them. And I knew they were going to be inside an “ark” and would be taken out and put back during the service. I was not prepared for the “ark” to be
    • huge
    • built into the wall
    • with motorized doors (controlled by a button on the rabbi’s lectern) that slooowly and dramatically opened over the course of like 30 seconds
      • (also the doors were in the shape that people traditionally depict the tablets of the ten commandments, appeared to actually be made of stone, and had giant gold-leafed writing on them in hebrew)
    • and lights inside that automatically turned on when the doors opened and made all the silver decorations and stuff sparkle super brightly against the velvet (?) lining
    • it was really &^%@&#^ fancy, in other words. nothing that’s not made with cgi should be allowed to be that dramatic. wow.
  • (Did I mention that the size of the room was larger than most recital halls I’ve performed in, if somewhat smaller than the really big main concert hall at my university? There was a balcony with extra seating.)
  • When we came in we were given little hardcover books which had all the prayers and songs for the service in them, in order, and (to the extent that I understood what was being said) they basically did everything in the book in order, except for taking some things that were written as audience responses and having the choir do them, and vice versa.
    • included in these books were:
      • hebrew text of everything
      • english translation of everything
      • hebrew transliteration of only a few things
      • no music notation of any kind
    • so I mostly just listened & read the translations, although some of it was done in english and I said the responses with everyone else for those parts.
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