Long live modern technology!: A treasure of versions of the Kol Nidre – including Chris Clapinson’s video on the life of Roger Scannura (creator of Todos Los Votos (The Flamenco version of the Kol Nidre) – can be found on Youzeek. Prepare to get lost for hours in the many fascinating videos. (This rich array includes versions of the Kol Nidre performed by Biblical Lyre, Double Bass, Organ, Klezmir Accordion and Alto-Saxophone and Harp.)
It was really nice to discover that our Kolnidre.org site has made a list of top Kol Nidre sites. The list can be found here.
Check out the Guitar Society of Toronto website for the good news that the SoloDuo concert – opened by Roger Scannura performing his Flamenco version of the Kol Nidre “Todos los Votos” is “sold out.” My thanks to the Guitar Society of Toronto for drawing so much attention to our ‘World Premier.” Harold Levy. Director. The Kol Nidre Project.
Flamenco has been a way of life for me. The music of the gipsies of Southern Spain affects me like no other. My journey into flamenco began with an aunt from Spain visiting my family in Malta where I was born. Tia Marguerita came and stayed with us every summer.She would cook for us and while cooking listen to flamenco and dance around the kitchen. During the day I was studying art and art restoration at a monastery,listening to Gregorian chanting,but when I arrived home the house was full of flamenco guitar music. As I grew up I studied music,drums mainly and then moved on to classical guitar. Although I love classic guitar music it did not fulfil me the way flamenco did. One day,after I saw Pepe Habichuela playing,I decided this was the music I wanted to play. I asked him to teach me,but he refused saying guitar is too hard. This was in of all places,in Toronto Canada where I was studying Graphic Design. When Pepe finished his stay in Toronto he said to me “If you are serious about learning flamenco guitar come to Spain and I will teach you.” I was 17 years old,and after 3 months I showed up at his house in Granada Spain and asked for lessons. I studied with Pepe and other gipsy masters off and on in Spain for twelve years. Rhythm and more rhythm,respect for gipsy culture and the fine art of improvisation within these complex mysterious rhythms. In the meantime I traced my family roots in Spain all the way to 1500,from Cadiz,to Tunisia and to Malta. The path of the Conversos during the Spanish Inquisition. I would return back to Canada every year,and with each year more people had heard of flamenco and were learning to love it. At the time I got serious about it,flamenco was not popular and when I announced to my father (a professional soccer player) that I was going to become a flamenco guitarist his reaction was ” great!,you and the other man who likes it should do ok!” This motivated me even more. A few years later,perhaps 1979 I saw Paco De Lucia perform for the first time ever,I had been listening to his music since 1973,but now I heard him live. There was no looking back. This is what I was going to do. I made flamenco guitar my life,touring with dance companies,composing and finally recording. After 25 years I had produced 6 cds of original flamenco guitar music,heavily steeped in tradition. Eventually I was asked to teach at York University. The opportunity gave me a chance to spread the word of flamenco to young people. Aside from students at the university I teach others who have a love of guitar and flamenco,such a person is Mr. Harold Levy. During one of his lessons we started to work on Taranta ,a gipsy rhythm from Sacromonte,Granada Spain.Imediatly Harold said “This reminds me of Kol Nidrei”. I had no idea what he meant. Soon as he left I started to research Kol Nidrei. I was fascinated by this simple ,haunting melody,spiritual and moving,flamenco but not. I then listened to many Kol Nidreis,Max Bruch,Sephardi,and countless others. The diversity was amazing. At Harold’s next lesson,he brought up the Kol Nidrei subject again. I explained that I now know what that is and how moving the melody is. He then suggested I compose a flamenco Kol Nidrei. This set me off on a 6 month journey of listening and comparing Kol Nidrei to flamenco,digging for the right flamenco palo that it would work in. After months of working and trying different palos,it dawned on me, my eureka! moment,Kol Nidrei is the roots of several of the cante jondo,being Segurillas,Tientos,Taranta and Solea por bulerias. I might even say of all flamenco. Let me explain. Flamenco started around 500 years ago,a time in Spain called the age of Conviviencas,meaning everyone got along. Christians,Muslims and Jews. All got to practice their religions freely. The only ones excluded were the gitanos,or gipsies,because of their lifestyle. The gitanos could hear Christian church music from out side the church and also Cantaors in the synagogues and Emirs in the temples. All this was put into the melting pot known as flamenco. To the gitanos flamenco is the only was to talk directly to god. Armed with 25 years of flamenco playing,and the worst winter in the history of Toronto I locked myself up,considering the weather divine intervention,I proceeded to compose my Kol Nidrei. The most important thing I wanted to achieve besides being true to Kol Nidrei and being true to flamenco,I wanted to retain the improvisational aspect of flamenco music. I have written my Kol Nidrei in sections,or modules they can be performed in any order the artist feels compelled to do.I feel this will result in different versions,with freedom for the performer wheter he is a classical or flamenco guitarist. It is important to me that guitarists other than me will be interested in performing and sharing the Scannura Kol Nidrei. I will be eternally grateful to Mr. Harold Levy for introducing me and encouraging me to undertake this journey through hundreds of years of music full of passion,happiness and redemption.
The Scannura Kol Nidre has travelled once again: this time to Beit Hatfutsot, The Museum of the Jewish People, which is located on the campus of Tel Aviv University in Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, which is displaying on its web site a video devoted to Roger Scannura’s creation of his Flamenco version of the Kol Nidre – and Roger’s discovery of his relationship to the Jewish people. (The video is provided by the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center at Beth Hatfutsot). Wikipedia informs us that the museum opened in May 1978. At the time, it was considered as one of the most innovative museums in the world The idea to establish Beit Hatfutsot was proposed by Nahum Goldmann, founder and President of the World Jewish Congress, who sought to create a monument to worldwide Jewish communities, past and present. Using audio-visual displays, the museum traces the history of communities of the Jewish diaspora through the ages and throughout the world, telling the story of the Jewish people from the time of their expulsion from the Land of Israel 2,600 years ago to the present. It gives me great pleasure to know that the Scannura Kol Nidre is playing a role in the story of the Jewish people from the time of the expulsion from Spain. I am very pleased that The Scannura Kol Nidre is joining “The Jolliet Kol Nidre” (Kol Nidre Goes East), which is housed at the Feher Jewish Music Center at Beit Hatfutsot.
I an honoured that “Todos Los Votos – The Scannura Kol Nidre – has found a place on the Sephardic Anusim website – a site which tells the story of Sephardic Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity – many of whom are now discovering their identity as Jews. One of its posts notes that “Flamenco originated with the migration of gypsies from Rajasthan (in north-west India) to southern Spain between the 9th and 14th centuries. It was born of the marriage of their culture with that of the Moors and Sephardic Jews whom they encountered.”
I am utterly delighted that this prestigious archives – The Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish sound archives – has taken on Roger Scannura’s work as part of the Kol Nidre Project. We thank the archives for their interest and support. Harold Levy. Director, The Kol Nidre Project.
The National Library of Israel contains stunning collections of works by eminent composers.
Producer Harold Levy says it’s a huge honour to have both of the Kol Nidre Project’s creations added to the list of the best of Kol Nidre’s. In compiler Lou Levy’s own words about the best of Kol Nidre: “Kol Nidre, l’une des plus célèbres prières de la liturgie juive, sera entendu ce soir dans toutes les synagogues lors de la célébration de l’office du soir de Yom Kippour. Jewpop a sélectionné les plus belles et les plus étonnantes interprétations et adaptations de cette mélodie.” Thanks to Google Translate for the following translation: “Kol Nidre, one of the most famous prayer of Jewish liturgy will be heard tonight in every synagogue during the celebration of the Office of Yom Kippur evening. Jewpop has selected the most beautiful and the most amazing interpretations and adaptations of this melody.” (Jewpop is a website that looks at all things Jewish – and occasionally non-Jewish – with an intelligent, occasionally humorous, and often ironic eye. HL.)
September 04, 2014. “Todos Los Votos” launched by press release headed: “The Kol Nidre finds its Flamenco rhythm” – and sub-headed, “The Kol Nidre Project releases unique Flamenco version of the iconic Kol Nidre prayer.” Press release allows recipients to hear “The Scannura Kol Nidre (Todos Los Votos), the Jolliet Kol Nidre (Kol Nidre Goes East), and the CBC radio documentary “Kol Nidre in Kabul, in their entirety.”