Please feel free to email me links to your own versions of the Kol Nidre or other versions you would like to see shared on the site.
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Welcome to the home of The Kol Nidre Project. This website is devoted to exploring, producing and sharing interpretations of the Kol Nidre through the hearts, souls and instruments of musicians from around the world.
I am fascinated by the numerous instruments on which the Kol Nidre has been performed over the years
I’m fascinated with the Kol Nidre. I have attempted to learn as much about this extraordinary piece of music as possible. I have tried to understand how it could have maintained its impact over the centuries among Jews and non-Jews alike. As the links section indicates, I am fascinated by the numerous instruments on which the Kol Nidre has been performed over the years ranging from the cello to the bamboo flute, let alone the full orchestra, string quartet, violin, piano, organ, hammered dulcimer, guitar, clarinet and saxophone, and various combinations of the above. I am also fascinated by the various genres the Kol Nidre has taken, ranging from the traditional chant to the contemporary and avant-garde – and including chorale, jazz, pop, and even a musical. What a powerful prayer! It resonated in the hearts of Jews even as they faced death in the concentration camps.
The Kol Nidre has exercised a powerful religious and musical influence over the centuries. One of the adjectives most commonly used to describe the Kol Nidre – the opening prayer recited on the eve of Yom Kippur – is “haunting”. The great cellist Jacqueline Du Pre is said to have asked that her recording of Kol Nidre be played by her bedside as she lay dying.
She knew music, and she knew her urgent need: to hear the haunting strains of this mysterious, magical melody, leading into a personal and communal song of remembrance and of promise
Sample of Jacqueline Du Pre’s Kol Nidre, Op.47, M.Bruch
Other commonly used adjectives include “plaintive”, “meditative”, “intoxicating” and “liberating”. One rabbi noted that the Kol Nidre’s melody is so daunting that hearing the first few bars can send shivers down the spine and remind the internal spiritual clock that the time for repentence has begun… “The music of Kol Nidre is a melody which universally touches the deepest recesses of our hearts and our souls”.
The Kol Nidre has also been said to evoke a response which is “long dormant” even when its words are not understood. Writer Corinna Da Fonseca Wollehiem, aptly describes the Kol Nidre as “a musical umbilical chord that links Jews to their religion”, in an article in the Jerusalem Post. “Even the most secular ‘Yom Kippur Jews’ who enter synagogue only this one night a year, speak of feeling the tug at the sound of the falling and rising and returning-to-its-beginning melody, which, despite its many variations, is recognizable in synagogues the world over,” she writes.
Please feel free to email me links to your own versions of the Kol Nidre
or other versions you would like to see shared on the site.
Producer, “The Kol Nidre Project”
Founder/Director: Harold Levy
Artistic Director: Nicolas Jolliet
Musicologist: John Campana
Production Manager: Kyra Jolliet
Production Assistant: Charlie Gruenstein