The Musical Journey of Jewish Music by Sémplice

By: Kamil Wojciak, Staff Writer


Sémplice, a group of musicians, performed six centuries worth of music (that ranges from the Renaissance to contemporary times) by Jewish composers. This performance was on February 27th, started at 7:30 PM, and was located at the Claver Recital Hall.

The main aspect of this performance was to show the audience the history of the Jewish music that we have today. After the round of introductions of the group members, they started with songs from the Renaissance era. The musical pieces played for the Renaissance era were composed between the 1400s and the 1600s. One famous composer from this period whose pieces were played was Thomas Lupo (“The Elder”), a violinist and musician for the King of England from 1603 to 1627. Thomas Lupo is important because he highly contributed to the growth of fantasias (musical compositions that rely on improvisation) and gave more recognition to the viol (a bow stringed instrument similar to the cello). The main instruments Sémplice played for the Renaissance era were the recorder, violin, lute, and cello.

After playing pieces from the Renaissance era, they immediately transitioned to the Baroque era; the era that is chronologically after the Renaissance era which began around  the 1600s and lasted until the mid 1700s. The first song played by Sémplice for the Baroque era was by Abraham Caceres (Casseres), a Jewish Dutch composer known for most of his works found in the early 1700s. During this era, the music of Jewish culture greatly expanded and evolved with the implementation of trio sonatas and the newer technology that accompanied music. For the trio sonatas played by Sémplice, the recorder and violin played the contrasting melodies, and the lute and cello played the bassline and harmonies for the pieces. Additionally, the harpsichord, an instrument that is part of the keyboard family, was used for part of the Baroque era songs.

One great example of music through which Sémplice showed the evolution and growth of Jewish music up until the Baroque era was their performance of George Frideric Handel’s trio sonatas. Handel, basically one of the pioneers of the trio sonata genre and the implementation of the harpsichord into trio sonatas, is the pure embodiment and representation of the Baroque era.

With all the pieces from the Renaissance and Baroque eras completed, the performance took a brief intermission for the final part: the Klezmer genre. For the final part of the performance, Sémplice members changed their outfits and instruments to accompany the contemporary pieces coming up. Personally, this was my favorite part of the whole performance, with its more modern roots (being from the 1900s) and the upbeat tone that differs from the Renaissance and Baroque eras of music. Instead of the common violin-based pieces the Renaissance and Baroque eras focused on, the Klezmer genre deviates from the common instruments by adding in the clarinet, tuba, and even the accordion. With its new instruments and unique musical tone, Klezmer received a rise and resurgence in the 1970s.

Finishing off the performance with a fun Klezmer song that included the audience’s participation, Sémplice caused the audience members to leave the concert hall with happy faces and great knowledge of the history of Jewish music. Sémplice provided a performance that highly exceeded expectations; one that was both entertaining and educational.



Rock Still Lives

By: AC Covarrubias, Staff Writer

         Music is an art form that has been around since the dawn of humanity and as we evolve, so makes the music we have created. Rock is one genre that nowadays seems to be an endangered genre. There are bands such as imagine dragons who by themselves are a fantastic rock band, but they are not as influential as bands such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and AC/DC. These bands are not the kings, but the gods that molded rock as we know today. Rock is being different in its purest form. It is all about gambling on your music, which is something most music records nowadays tend to avoid. Songs such as Black Sabbath (which is a song made by Black Sabbath in their first album, Black Sabbath in 1971), Stairway to Heaven, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, and Back in Black. Before the early 2000s music was evolving in new and unique ways, one could never have imagined. Black Sabbath gave birth to heavy metal, Led Zeppelin created what is considered the greatest rock song of all time, The Rolling Stones were the ones to invent arena rock, and AC/DC established the noisy good-time rock ‘n’ roll we know and love.

         So what? What relevance does it have in a world that is more in tune with rappers, pop stars, and EDM producers? The answer is reliability. Rock can be made in any form and still be loved, but again, retain its genre. Songs such as The Immigrant Song makes you feel that you are a Viking. Jumpin’ Jack Flash can make you feel upbeat and happy. Black Sabbath (the song) can make you feel a sense of dread and fear of mortality. Back in Black makes you feel like a badass, ready to defeat whatever comes at you. The bands who made these songs wrote them from their experiences, lessons, and imagination, not from corporate sellouts as common of as today. Not to say that all music artists of today are sellouts, or to say that all of these rock bands wrote all of their songs, they just made enough to get the world’s attention. It is what makes rock an art form, and poetry. Whether it is hard rock, metal, blues rock, or classic rock, one thing's for sure, music, in general, can bring people together.