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Fifth Festival of Universal Sacred Music – 11/12/11

November 29, 2011

by Yumeno Toyoda, Intern

On November 12th, 2011, the Society for Universal Sacred Music  held “The 5th Festival of Universal Sacred Music” at Symphony Space in Manhattan, New York. The UNA-USA Southern New York State Division co-sponsored.

The afternoon began with a jazz group led by pianist Roger Davidson, founder and president of the Society.  With Catherine Russell as vocalist, they performed music that he wrote from jazz and gospel traditions. The New York Virtuoso Singers, led by conductor Harold Rosenbaum, Artistic Director of the Society, performed several pieces. In addition to Mr. Davidson, other writers / performers included Sharon Farber, Maya Raviv, Malcolm Daglish, David Newman and Deepak Kumar Pareek, The full range of musicians and groups included  Pablo Aslan, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, David Kontesz, Fredy Schiftan, Maya Raviv, The Canticum Novum Youth Choir, Edie Rosenbaum, Max ZT, Barry Centanni, The Riverside Inspirational Choir, Nedra Olds-Neal, Thomas McCargar, Brent Funderburk, the Western Wind Vocal Ensemble, Anonymous4, James Adams, and Declan Bennett.

The Society for Universal Sacred Music is focused on “the creation and performance of music that celebrates the unity and unconditional love of God, and the fundamental Brotherhood and Sisterhood we all share as eternal children of God”. Roger Davidson, founder and president of that organization, wrote that he wished the festival’s message of universal love, compassion and peace to resonate far and wide from the collective energy of all the music.

Mr. Davidson’s life has been filled with music since he was six. During the Festival he played lively Jazz and Gospel songs that he wrote. Indeed every song played at the festival was filled with energy.

Also, on exhibit in the lobby, were photos by Aicha Skandrani, a Tunisian artist living in France. Her photographs showed the “nature of light.”

One of the musicians, Maya Raviv, sang songs written in Hebrew and it was quite interesting to listen. She is an Israeli composer and performer who “breathes new life into ancient Hebrew texts”. She was born and raised in the Middle East and educated in the U.S.  After her graduation from college, she traveled on Peace Missions to Jordan, Israel and all over the U.S. to perform Hebrew prayers and to connect with people of different faiths. In recent missions she has performed for refugees in Jordan, Holocaust Survivors in Oklahoma and so on. Her songs that were performed at the festival were all written in Hebrew. The song called “Mabat Einecha (The Look in Your Eyes)”; honoring Gilad Schalit who was captured by Hamas in 2006 and released on 18th October, 2011 was absolutely amazing. Her music was so spiritual and fitted beautifully with the theme of the festival.

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