A few months ago, my colleague, Cantor Rich Pilatsky, contacted me about a commission: His wife, Cantor Sandra Sherry Pilatsky, was retiring after a career at her synagogue of over two decades. Rich asked if I could write for her a musical setting of the Modim prayer. I was happy to oblige, especially since Sandy would have no idea that this would be happening. Rich organized a choir, plotted secret rehearsals, and finally the big premiere on June 8. In Rich’s own words:
I have found that the pieces that turned out the best were the ones over which I sweated the most, but wrote in a short amount of time. For a few months I sat at the piano, would come up with a motif, shake my head, and look at the text again. Like a lot of Hebrew prayers, the Modim is not a metered text and has no rhyme scheme. My inspiration came from the guidance Rich gave me at the onset of his request: He wanted the work to sound both traditional and modern. And then… it finally came to me. I wish I could explain the process better, but I suppose that’s the nature of art.
The Modim is now available at my MusicaNeo.com site where you can see a sample score and listen to an mp3 sample. Or you can hear it right here!