Bloch’s Sacred Service - Livestream

Cantor Vladimir Lapin, baritone
Dr. Jacob Schnitzer, conductor
Dr. Bret Peppo, chorus master

The Kent State University Orchestra and combined Choirs, joined by Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple Cantor Vladimir Lapin join to present Ernest Bloch’s (first President of the Cleveland Institute of Music) “Sacred Service” (Avodath HaKodesh), a monumental work of Jewish liturgical music for cantor, a full symphonic chorus, and  symphony orchestra. This performance at the historic Maltz Center Performing Arts, originally built as The Temple Tifereth-Israel, places the Sacred Service amidst one of Cleveland’s most beautiful spaces of Jewish sacred architecture.

The piece was born as a Sabbath morning service for San Francisco’s historic Temple Emanu-El according to the text of the Union Prayerbook for Jewish Worship, the official prayerbook of the American Reform movement at the time. Bloch, a Swiss-born Jewish composer, drew upon his deep understanding of Jewish musical traditions, coupled with his mastery of Western classical composition techniques, to create a work that transcends religious and cultural boundaries.
In the context of the Reform Jewish prayer service, “Sacred Service” marked a departure from traditional liturgical music. Bloch incorporated elements of synagogue chant, cantorial melodies, and biblical texts into a rich orchestral and choral framework. This fusion of ancient Jewish musical motifs with modern symphonic composition reflected the Reform movement’s desire to reconcile tradition with modern times. Its grandeur, emotional depth, and innovative use of orchestration have earned it acclaim as one of the most important sacred choral works of the 20th century. It continues to resonate with audiences worldwide, serving as a testament to the enduring power of music to transcend religious, cultural, and geographical boundaries.

Bloch Service, Stained Glass