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Jewish Or Not …?

Many people have asked me, either because of the Jewish sound of some of my music or because of my name, whether I am Jewish.

So I thought it would be a good idea to create a “Jewish or not..?” page, just to draw together all the strings that have been inspired by my Judaic ancestry.

First, however, a quick explanation: I am not Jewish; I suppose one could say I am one-quarter Jewish since my grandfather married a gentile and my father also married a gentile, but, in fact, my immediate family has been atheist since the middle of the 20th Century, if not before, so questions of Jewishness, Christian-ness or any other religion-ness are actually fairly irrelevant.

I was given the middle name of Warin - after the Norman French hero Fouke Fitz Warin - so that I could use that name as a surname if anti-semitism were to raise its ugly head in the UK. It did raise its ugly head in some places on this island, but not so badly that I needed to change my name. Thanks be to British multiculturalism!

During my University days I was drawn towards Christianity for a few years and from there on to Christian music styles, which have proved very fruitful both in my compositional creations and in my opportunity to sing in church and Cathedral choirs. Despite my return to atheism I have ever since enjoyed singing in Christian places (although I do snooze a bit during the spoken parts!). I have always loved their music and in fact it took some time for me to realise that a chunk of Jewishness is also to be found in there amongst my musical chromosomes. My mass for men’s voices - which has been performed liturgically several times (including the day after Princess Diana’s death in 1997, at Dublin Christ Church Cathedral)  - has struck many as being “full of Eastern promise”.  I certainly didn’t realise this “Eastern promise” whilst I was writing it!

This piece has since also become a Mass for choir and orchestra as performed here in Budapest:











Jewish or not...?

Other instrumental and vocal ensembles and solos with a Jewish flavour include:


A Tango Already (bandoneon, double bass, violin and piano) (Score)              Video  


Pax Eiscum (flute and guitar) (Score)                                                              Video      


Eight Jewish melodies (flute and guitar) (Score)                                             Video


Eight Jewish melodies (clarinet and guitar) (Score)


Eight Jewish melodies (guitar trio) (Score)                                                     Video playlist


Camp David (string quintet based on Ikh bin e medel in de joren) (Score)      Video   


Hora Ha-Kulmus (Dance of the Quill)  (oboe, clarinet and bassoon) (Score)     Video


Variations on Adon Olam:

    (three part choir (Score and audio preview))

    (flute, viola and guitar (Score and audio preview))

    (2 flutes and guitar (Score and audio preview))

    (flute, violin and cello (Score and audio preview))           Video

    (piccolo, oboe and clarinet (Score and audio preview)

    (flute, clarinet and guitar (Score and audio preview))

    (flute, cello and guitar (Score and audio preview))         Video

    (wind quintet (Score and audio preview))                       Video (written especially for, and performed at, the Holocaust memorial service in Barnet)

    (recorder, voice and guitar (Score and audio))               Video


Pensieri su Klizemer (= Thoughts on Klezmer) - for

     solo saxophone  (mp3) (score)                                      Video

     solo flute          (mp3) (score)                                       Video

     solo clarinet               (score)


Canzone per Pesach (= Song for Passover)

    guitar solo (score)


Al Hanisim  (= the miracles)

      (electronic preview - mp3)

      clarinet, violin, cello and piano (score)

       alto saxophone, clarinet and piano (score)


Shem ru’ahh for clarinet solo (Score)


Klezmer del Mar (flute, cello and guitar) Score                       Video


Nokh amol mit neshome (once more with soul) flute solo) (Score))               Video


Nokh Amol mit Neshome (Once more with soul) for clarinet solo


Klezomaticus for flute solo


Klezomaticus for violin solo


Klezomaticus for clarinet solo



Freilach (Fraylach) for 3 B flat clarinets


Freilach (Fraylach) for 2 B flat clarinets and 1 Alto clarinet


Freilach (Fraylach) for flute trio


Freilach (Fraylach) for 2 flutes and clarinet



Yiddish folk song Medley for instrumental duet

    violin and guitar (score and audio preview)

    viola and guitar (score and audio preview)

    cello and guitar (score and audio preview)

    flute and guitar (score and audio preview)

    clarinet and guitar (score and audio preview)



Varshaver Frelekhs  (A Fraylachs from Warsaw)

   cello and guitar (score and audio preview)

   flute and guitar (score and audio preview)



Al Hanisim (clarinet, alto saxophone and piano) (Score)             Video


The Feast of Lights for violin, clarinet cello and piano (Score and audio preview)



Vocal pieces


Al Hanisim (alto voice, clarinet and strings (Score))                                         Video


The Feast of Lights (two sopranos (or soprano sections) and piano)                Video


4 Yiddish folksong arrangements (alto and guitar) (Special page)


The Hebrew Class (alto and guitar - the origin of “Pax Eiscum” above (Score and audio)                   Video



4 Yiddish folksongs for clarinet and guitar


4 Yiddish folksongs for cor anglais and guitar


4 Yiddish folksongs for alto saxophone and guitar


4 Yiddish folksongs for flute and guitar


Ikh bin e meidel in de Joren (I am a girl come of age) for clarinet and guitar


Ikh bin e meidel in de Joren (I am a girl come of age) for cor anglais and guitar


Ikh bin e meidel in de Joren (I am a girl come of age) for alto saxophone and guitar


Ikh bin e meidel in de Joren (I am a girl come of age) for flute and guitar


Ale vasserlech (All the waters flow away) for clarinet and guitar


Ale vasserlech (All the waters flow away) for cor anglais and guitar


Ale vasserlech (All the waters flow away) for alto saxophone and guitar


Ale vasserlech (All the waters flow away) for flute and guitar


Oyfn Yam (On the sea) for clarinet and guitar


Oyfn Yam (On the sea) for cor anglais and guitar


Oyfn Yam (On the sea) for alto saxophone and guitar


Oyfn Yam (On the sea) for flute and guitar


Amol iz geven a mayse (There once was a tale) for clarinet and guitar


Amol iz geven a mayse (There once was a tale) for cor anglais and guitar


Amol iz geven a mayse (There once was a tale) for alto saxophone and guitar


Amol iz geven a mayse (There once was a tale) for flute and guitar



Score of Tants Fraylachs

Recently, with the collaboration of friends in Italy and Chile, I have created a downloadable CD of arrangements of Yiddish folksongs and other Jewish tunes


The Youtube playlist is here


And the CD itself is available on CDBaby, Amazon, itunes, Bandcamp and elsewhere, all under the title “Yiddish routes”

The most successful - so far - of my Jewish-style pieces has been my Tants Fraylachs, a quartet for clarinets, saxophones or tubas/euphoniums. It has been performed in Canada, Japan, the UK and probably elsewhere. You can hear one of the the performances by the Fell clarinet quartet here:

I was also recently asked to write a trio for 2 flutes and 1 alto flute in Jewish style. The piece (which called Freilach) has also proved popular amongst many flute players.

The score is here

And the video is here:

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