Celebrating Original Jewish Songs by Local Composers

Save the date! Beth Torah is excited to host the 4th annual “Spring Session,” a concert featuring all original songs by local composers, at 3 p.m., Sunday, April 7th.

Area music-makers, including clergy and synagogue music directors, will join forces to present 21 songs by 14 songwriters from the Greater Kansas City Jewish community.

Rabbi Doug Alpert, of Congregation Kol Ami, will serve as emcee for this event.
A light sweets reception will follow the concert. The Spring Session is open to the public, and a $5 donation at the door is suggested but not required for attendance.

CBT Music Director Emily Tummons has partnered again with CBT Choir Director Carmen Dieker in working behind-the-scenes with many of the composers to bring their songs to life, especially those composers who don’t necessarily see themselves as performers, or who want to explore a fresh arrangement of their songs. Each year they gather together and rehearse with a house band, made up of bass, percussion, cello, piano, guitar, and more. “I think the audience is going to love all of the songs from all of the songwriters,” Emily said. “There is such spectacular diversity.” Listeners will be treated to new musical settings of Shabbat liturgy, original poetry, new niggunim, Talmudic texts, and other Jewish prayers, stories, and blessings. The following composers from our Beth Torah family have been invited to share new Jewish songs this year: Jim Appelbaum, Carmen Dieker, Jill Fine, Mike Fine, Tim Intfen, Stu Lewis, Emily Tummons, Lezlie Zucker. 

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The original music by Rabbi Jonathan Rudnick, JFS Rabbi and Community Chaplain, will be featured in this year’s Spring Session. He looks forward to working with the House Band to bring to life his own setting of “Im Ein Ani Li.” Jonathan writes: “I love the Spring Session, and this will be my fourth time experiencing the incredibly creative process of taking music for Jewish/Hebrew lyrics that comes out of me and transforming it into a real song — Toda rabba for the wonderful community!”


Linda Salvay’s original song, “Blessing for Our Communal Work,” is sung at each Spring Session concert by the entire community that gathers to celebrate this music each year. Last year, Linda’s song “The Other Side” was performed by a large Interfaith Chorus, conducted by Lara Steinel. This year Linda brings more new compositions to share with us.


Warren Sickel, co-Director of Music at Temple Beth Sholom in Topeka returns this year for his third Spring Session concert. This year he presents a new niggun (wordless melody), along with a klezmer-infused setting of “Yism’chu.” “The Spring Session provides me with a wonderful opportunity to connect with area Jewish composers and musicians in Kansas City in an exchange of ideas, coupled with the chance to collaborate with congregational counterparts,” Warren said.


Rachel Black brought the house down at the 2018 Spring Session with her original song, “Edyka,” which told the story of her grandmother’s escape from the holocaust. Rachel and her new baby daughter, Cora Edyka Blackmoore, look forward to sharing more original music at this year’s Spring Session!


Rabbi Scott White of Congregation Ohev Sholom will be featured for the fourth year in a row, along with his band “The Jewbie Brothers.” This year the band will perform two songs: “Land of Light and Stone” by Rabbi White, and “You Are Standing Here Today” by Jim Appelbaum. Ron Altman (percussion), Jim Appelbaum (keyboard), Bob Hurst (guitar), Eric Morgenstern (bass), Larry Myer (saxophone, percussion), Scott White (guitar, harmonica) together form The Jewbie Brothers.


Michelle Cox, Music Director at The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah, returns to the 2019 Spring Session for a second year. In 2018 she offered our audience an original setting of "Halleluyah" (Psalm 150), and "Bar'chu." This year, she is teaming up with other composers (Linda Salvay, Lezlie Zucker) to work up a fresh rendition of her original song, “Hineih Mah Tov.”

To get a flavor for what this concert is like,
browse through the YouTube playlist from the 2018 Spring Session:

To view CBT’s photo album from the 2018 Spring Session:

14 Composers to Be Featured at 2019 Spring Session

Warren Sickel
Emily Tummons
Scott White
Lezlie Zucker

Jim Appelbaum
Rachel Black
Michelle Cox
Carmen Dieker
Jill Fine

Mike Fine
Tim Intfen
Stu Lewis
Jonathan Rudnick
Linda Salvay

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The 2019 Spring Session is funded in part by a generous grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City, and also funded in part by the “Supporters Circle,” a group of individual donors from Congregation Beth Torah.