In a week when Middletown residents will protest the elimination of the position of Arts Coordinator for the City on Tuesday evening, guitarist/composer Amanda Monaco and her ensemble will perform music inspired by the "Pirkei Avot" translated as "Ethics of Our Fathers." These ethical and moral principles are teachings gleaned from the Mishnah, described as "an edited record of the complex body of material known as oral Torah that was transmitted in the aftermath of the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E."
The performance takes place at 7 p.m. on Thursday May 31 in the Hubbard Room of The Russell Library, 123 Broad Street in Middletown as part of Noah Baerman's refreshing "Jazz Up Close" series. Pianist, composer, author, and educator Baerman created the series when he was "named Artistic Director of Resonant Motion, Inc., an organization that seeks to explore and deepen connections between music and social causes" (read more at www.noahjazz.com). He has brought musicians from around the country to the Library where they perform original material and answer questions from the audience. Ms. Monaco, who has been a friend and musical associate of Mr. Baerman since high school, is the first performer for the "Sound Belief" series, a program of music inspired by the artist's religious beliefs, faith, and studies. (Author's note: I had the honor of presenting Ms. Monaco's "Pirkei Avot: Volume I" at Congregation Adath Israel several years ago. The performance was quite moving.)
For Thursday's event, the guitarist and Baerman will be playing newer songs based on the "Pirkei Avot" alongside the expressive vocalist Tammy Sheffer, recorder master Daphna Mor, bassist Henry Lugo, and percussionist Rogerio Boccato. Like all events at The Russell Library, the performance is free and open to the public. For more information, click on bit.ly/2IO0hFz.
Here's a piece from Volume 1 of "The Pirkei Avot Project" featuring Ms. Monaco and Ms. Mor plus bassist Sean Conly, percussionist Satoshi Takeishi, and vocalist Ayelet Rose Gottlieb: