For many of us, Jewish sacred music evokes deeply personal and powerful memories of family, community, and often of those no longer with us. For this reason, many greet deviations from our own experience with Jewish sonic ritual with ire. Yet while some may be nostalgic for a specific music soundscape, Jewish musical practice—never static—constantly shifts in multiple directions, as all vibrant religious and cultural traditions do. The submissions in Soundtrack of the Spirit represent the vitality of many diverse realms of sacred Jewish creative musical expression today. — Galeet Dardashti
Vocalist and scholar, Dr. Galeet Dardashti, is the first woman to continue her family’s tradition of distinguished Persian and Jewish musicianship and she has earned a reputation as one of the most innovative performers of Jewish music today. She received a Six Points Fellowship to pursue her multi-disciplinary project and 2010 nationally acclaimed release, The Naming, which interprets some of the compelling women of the Bible. Time Out New York called The Naming “urgent, heartfelt and hypnotic,” and The Huffington Post described it as “heart-stopping.” In her most recent commissioned multi-sensory piece, Monajat, Dardashti—accompanied by an acclaimed ensemble of Middle Eastern and jazz musicians—reinvents the reflective musical ritual of Selihot using digital technology to sing with recordings of her famed Iranian grandfather. She is also the leader of the renowned all-female power-house Mizrahi ensemble, Divahn and has significant cantorial experience. As a scholar, she holds a Ph.D. in anthropology, specializing in cultural politics and contemporary Middle Eastern/Arab music in Israel. She offers residencies, lectures, courses, and interactive workshops on her artistic and academic work throughout the US and abroad and is currently a Visiting Scholar at NYU’s Taub Center for Israel Studies.