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by Cantor David Berger

Prayer for Peace, by Gershon Kingsley

In cantorial school, when we learned the classic settings of Max Helfman and Herbert Fromm of Grant Us Peace we studied how those two masters had seamlessly blended cantorial-esque chant with solidly mid-20th century American harmonies. They were (and are!) textbook examples of Union Prayer Book-style English language settings that are rooted in traditional, ethnically-charged Ashkenazic prayer modes.

Not so this much less-known setting of the same text by Gershon Kingsley. Romantic, dramatic, and lushly harmonized, this is a completely different take on the Prayer for Peace. Kingsley, most famously the early adopter of the moog synthesizer and the composer of Popcorn, leaves behind his experimental electronic music side and here achieves a stunningly beautiful art piece more similar to his well known setting of Psalm 23. This is a Prayer for Peace with lots of space for singers and accompanists to express themselves. The conversation between voice and keyboard is rich with anticipations, responses, and moments for each to step back or move forward. The accompaniment would also easily lend itself to adaptation by a string quartet to great effect.

HOW DO WE USE A PIECE LIKE THIS IN 2018? For one, it would be very simple to update the language to that found in our new prayerbook - but even left as it is now, this Prayer for Peace, with its simple, romantic, and spacious plea to "strengthen the bonds of friendship and fellowship among all the inhabitants of all lands" will be received by congregations and concert audiences anywhere as a source of newfound (though composed in 1959!) inspiration and hope. Solo Voice (Medium or High) and Keyboard

More from Gershon Kinglsey.