Having trouble viewing this email? Click here. Salon/Sanctuary Concerts presents... Il Dolce Suono – Ki Kolech Arev Thursday, March 12th 7pm Steph

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Salon/Sanctuary Concerts presents...

Il Dolce Suono – Ki Kolech Arev

Thursday, March 12th 7pm

Stephen Wise Free Synagogue

30 West 68th Street

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duomo florence cupola by smatsh-d3ald4l

The Duomo of Florence

The birthplace of both opera and the Renaissance, Florence was a banking center, a hub of international trade and finance from the mid thirteenth to the end of the fifteenth century. One empire aspiring to echo another, the city commissioned Brunelleschi to construct the biggest dome built since the Pantheon in ancient Rome. He experimented with a technique used by the ancient Romans but never employed since, using terra cotta bricks arranged in a herringbone pattern to equally distribute weight of the dome without any wooden framework. The harmonious proportions of the Dome inspired Guillaume Dufay to compose the famous motet Nuper Rosarum Flores, to celebrate the Duomo’s consecration.

The Duomo is dedicated to the Madonna and called Santa Maria del Fiore. Upon completion, it became the biggest ever built in the world since the Roman era. It continues to dominate the Florentine skyline and is a symbol of the city to this day. A monument that celebrates the temporal power of Renaissance Florence as much as the religious devotion of its citizens, the Duomo, consecrated in 1436 by Pope Eugenio IV, became the largest church in the world.


The interior of the Dome

Italian polyphonic music from the time of the Duomo’s construction has been likened to a “dazzling meteor,” flaming into existence then disappearing abruptly with fireworks spent. As Republican Florence rose to prominence in the middle of the 14th century, its distinct style of music and text, (Boccaccio, Soldanieri and others), compositions of Francesco Landini, Gherardello da Firenze, Don Paolo da Firenze, Laurentius da Firenze, and Jacopo da Bologna emerged as jewels of the repertoire. The Tuscan language that flourished in the poetry of this period became the modern language spoken by Italians today.

As a center of artistic patronage and philosophical and scientific inquiry, Florence became the new Athens. The indomitable presence and immense size of the Cathedral of Florence asserted Florence’s identity as the new Rome. However, and perhaps most significantly, as the largest church in Europe at the time of its completion, the Duomo turned Florence into the center of the Christian world – the new Jerusalem.


Michelangelo's David

At a time of violent anti-semitism, Old Testament imagery figured prominently in the civic identity of the Tuscan capital. A military power that saw itself as an underdog, Florence chose as its symbol not only the delicate lilly, but the feisty David. The lithe Hebrew hero who brings down the lumbering Philistine giant figured large in the iconography of Florentine art. Michelangelo’s masterpiece is only the most famous example of a long line of renditions, which includes that of Donatello, currently housed in the Bargello Museum.


Donatello's David

In the shadow of so many Davids of marble and bronze, Florentine Jews enjoyed no such enshrinement. Beyond the sparkling body of polyphony and song was a shadow world of many Jewish musicians and dance-masters who served their Christian masters while writing repertoire for their own people. Alongside the elaborate polyphonic music and flashy dances they would play, sing, dance and teach, they composed hauntingly beautiful music for the synagogue. Some of this music continues to be sung in synagogue services today, but it went virtually unheard in their own time outside of the Jewish community, even though the construction of the actual Ghetto did not take place until the 16th century.


Hebrew prayerbook from 1331

Unlike the Jewish community of Rome, whose establishment predates Christianity and is neither Ashkenazi nor Sephardic, the community of Florence is not well documented until 1437. The first Jews who came to Florence were from neighboring cities (with an "Italianic" tradition) but soon after the expulsion of Jews from Spain, a large community with a Western-Sephardic tradition (close to the tradition of other west-Spanish and Portuguese communities in the world) developed in Florence and became the largest trend-setter in music and liturgy among the Florentine Jews. They brought with them ancient melodies (probably from around the time of the non-Jewish half of our program) which one can still hear in similar versions in other Western-Sephardic communities in the world, and these melodies have gotten over the years all kinds of minor changes which have made them uniquely "Florentine" with time.


This repertoire, with its elegiac piyutim written under cover of night, continues to emerge in the light of our own time, and we lovingly share some of it with you today. As citizens of one cosmopolitan capital glancing back over our shoulder to another, with an of awe of the past and unease for the future, may we come to appreciate the impermanence of our own supremacy, and bring to light the various shadow worlds of our own making.

– Jessica Gould, Giovanni Guidetti, Corina Marti, and Doron Schleifer

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