Each year, composer Michael Isaacson speaks before many diverse groups about Jewish music. In demand as a scholar-in-residence and for weekend retreats, he also gives single lecture-demonstrations at synagogues, havurot, University Jewish Studies programs, Elderhostels, and other interest groups across America, Canada, Europe and Israel. Here are three programs designed for general, specific, and scholarly levels:
I want to thank you again for the marvelous course. Everyone who attended came away moved, elevated and educated. You opened a new world of Jewish expression and emotion for us. Thank you for sharing your creativity, your scholarship, and your Jewish soul.
Rabbi Edward Feinstein,
Valley Beth Shalom,
"A Musical Evening with Michael Isaacson"
Enjoy a delightful musical evening of this composer’s best-loved Shabbat, holiday, and life-cycle music performed by his ensemble and very special guest artists from your own community. Throughout the festivities, Michael shares musical anecdotes, and insights into the meaning of his work. He illuminates the compositional process as only this multi-talented composer/conductor/speaker can. The evening concludes with an informal Q&A opportunity for members of the audience to interact one-on-one with Michael.
Every piece of music has a story…especially the music of Michael Isaacson. What a treat it was to hear the stories and enjoy the magnificent creations of Dr. Isaacson’s music through which we pray.
........................Rabbi David S. Lieb, Temple Beth El San Pedro, California
"What Makes Jewish Music Jewish?" - A Musically Illustrated Lecture
In a musically engaging way, which bursts old myths while illuminating new insights, noted composer Michael Isaacson tackles the question of authenticity in Jewish music. Using his own lyrical synagogue compositions and music by other composers as illustrations, Dr. Isaacson, through first-hand creative insight, explains what the essence of Jewish music really is all about.
Michael Isaacson challenges Jews to think about our liturgy and music. In sharing his compositions, he creatively invites us to encounter those who compose our music and learn from them. Knowledgeable worshippers who know more about prayer and Jewish music contribute to increased involvement and engagement in worship. Dr. Isaacson's approach of music as Midrash is essential in helping us reach that goal of enriched presence in worship.
........................Rabbi Leonard Zukrow, Temple Beth El, Pensacola Florida
“Jewish Music as Midrash”
Based on his new book of the same name, Dr. Isaacson explores the finer aspects of this new way of appreciating music and art in Jewish life. He structures this presentation in three to five distinct talks. All are illustrated by musical examples on CD.
The most important part of Dr. Isaacson’s visit to Rollins concerned his interaction with our students and faculty. He began his visit with a two hour master class to the composition students in the Music Department. Both Dr. Crozier and I were there, and both of us think we may have learned more than the students. Michael began with a little bit of philosophy on composition, on how to think when composing, giving some examples from CDs of his own music, including music for orchestra as well as for solo singer and instrumentalist. Then he reviewed all the students’ work, from simple piano pieces to a score for a film, giving each respectful and serious consideration. The students hung on every word, not only in the comments about their own pieces but all their peers’ evaluations as well. After this session Michael gave a talk to music business and music writing students about how to listen, and how to structure not only music, but everything that individuals might wish to do. The disinterested soon were rapt, and I don’t know how he tied everything together, but he did! The way Professor Archard was involved in learning from him probably lent even more credibility to what Michael had to say. Later, during dinner to which a student was invited, Michael was charming, drawing the young man into the wide-ranging conversation, answering questions and dispensing advice in an avuncular manner. I know that during the day Michael had the opportunity to meet Dr. Sinclair, and they had a preliminary conversation about music for the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra, and he was very supportive of John’s work.
Dr. Isaacson’s residency has exceeded all expectations. Many of us are looking forward to his return visit He is kind enough to keep in touch with all of those he met, and the experience of having the “stranger” visit our small town is continuing.
........................Professor Susan Lackman, Rollins College