Song Of The Day 5/26/2016: Gershon Kingsley with Choir & Orchestra – “Shabbat For Today”

Moog In Vogue – To atone for the previous two days of wanton carnal synthesesia, I thought it might be a nice idea for us to snap on our 99-cent chastity belts and barricade ourselves in a church. Specifically a synagogue, for this really quite wonderful collaboration between electronic music visionary Gershon Kingsley, members of the Temple Rodeph Shalom in New York City and a fair but temperamental God. This piece was recorded in 1971 and broadcast on PBS between Muppet orgies and arguments with members of the Loud Family.

Kingsley did as much as anybody, outside Robert Moog of course, to push the little console to its compositional limits. Shabbat for Today was an extended piece he premiered in 1968 at the behest of Rabbi Charles Akiva Annes from Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in East Orange, NJ. This article from the Milken Archive describes how Annes asked Kingsley to "compose a new Friday evening Sabbath eve service specifically geared 'to the younger generation.' The result of that invitation was Shabbat for Today (subtitled on the original score Sing a New Song unto the Lord), written for cantor, mixed choir, and rock rhythm ensemble. It was premiered at that synagogue in 1968 by Cantor Theodore L. Aronson and an all-black choir, with electric guitar, double bass, rhythm section, and organ."

The piece was a by-product of an overall effort to contemporize Jewish services for the younger set, who were dallying with flower power, psychedelic guitar and a state of assumed elevation loosely known as being "turned on." That article from the Milken Archive describes another improbable gathering in that may very well have converted me (emphases mine):
A revolutionary and almost defiant Sabbath eve service cohosted by two upstate suburban New York Reform congregations in 1967, for example, featured gyrating dancers as well as rock singers, New Age phantasmal electronic sound tracks, accompanying synchronized film projections and intermittent slide shows, flashing strobe lights, taped electronic music improvised by Kingsley, and, in place of a rabbi, the non-Jewish extreme avant-garde composer John Cage on the pulpit — in a new form of sermon based on the words of Buckminster Fuller, which discoursed in confused and cryptic language on the proliferation of energy distribution systems and the political ramifications of private versus public power vis-à-vis the supposed rationale for the invention of communications.
John Cage on the pulpit? I'll bet that was one understated sermon.

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