'Crossing Over' concert heralds Passover, spring
As a celebration of Passover, "Crossing Over: A Musical Haggadah" will be performed in the sanctuary shared by the Lake Oswego United Church of Christ and Temple Beit Haverim, located at 1111 Country Club Road in Lake Oswego.
Composed by Portland pianist Michael Allen Harrison, with book and lyrics by Rabbi Alan Berg, "Crossing Over: A Musical Haggadah" made its world premiere in 2013. It is a concert with a unique multi-sensory interpretation of the Exodus story.
At Passover Seders, each participant has a Haggadah — an instruction book that leads you through the Seder and explains the symbolism of the foods, events and stories told. The text is formal and never varies from generation to generation.
In an interview with The Review and Tidings in 2013, Harrison said the idea came from a wish his father, Joe Harrison, expressed years before that he undertake a musical project to give to the Jewish faith, similar to Leonard Bernstein's signature symphony "Kaddish."
Harrison said he always associated Passover with his father; it is an important holiday for Jewish families.
"Passover (to Jews) is as big as Christmas (to Christians). It's the kind of holiday where we remember our history ... what happened to the people in Egypt. He led the seder," Harrison said of his father. "Preparation was a big deal. We used special china and crystal. Seder plates and wine. It is all done a certain way as tradition."
For some time Harrison said he "heard whispers" or got ideas about what he might compose and then it was clear: He would compose a musical Haggadah.
Berg, spiritual leader at Beit Haverim in Lake Oswego and a renowned religious scholar, was a close friend of the senior Harrison. They shared a keen interest in music, which coupled with his scholarly knowledge made him the natural choice with whom to collaborate with Harrison on the project.
The men completed the project in about two months before its world premiere at Mittleman Jewish Community Center in 2013.
"'Crossing Over' is a musical drama. It begins on the seventh night of Passover and concludes with a vision of a peaceful, blessed Jerusalem," Berg said. "It is filled with music that highlights each step on this journey. The stage is set as a Seder table, the participants sing our story and ask our questions. The narrator reveals the tale."
All are invited to attend "Crossing Over: A Musical Haggadah" when it is performed April 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the shared sanctuary at 1111 Country Club Road, Lake Oswego. Michael Allen Harrison will conduct; the Rev. Jennie Ott and Rabbi Alan Berg will narrate. The production stars Cantor Ida Rae Cahana, Julianne Johnson Weiss, Kayla Bojelais and Ashley Bojelais, and Linda Harrison plus Israel Annoh on drums and choirs, strings and horns.
"I had a lovely friendship with Joe," said Berg. "So the music should be wistfully elegiac, even as Julianne Johnson rocks, even as Cantor Ida Rae Cahana soars."
"I consider this to be one of my greatest achievements as a composer," said Harrison. "This musical interpretation of the Exodus from Egypt and the story of redemption and freedom will be a deep meaningful experience as we awaken our spirits this spring."
Tickets are $15 for students; $29.50 general admission; $49.50 for VIP seating. Sponsorship opportunities with premium seating are also available. Visit michaelallenharrison.com for tickets and more information.
Group tickets can be secured through Berg by calling 503-593-4099.
This is an interfaith event. All are welcome.
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