Ari Sussman(b. 1993) is a Philadelphia born and Ann Arbor based pianist and composer of vocal, chamber, orchestral, choral, and electronic music. Kabbalah, nature, cosmology, meditation, metaphysics, ancient and contemporary poetry, and human interaction are among. Sussman's non-musical influences and interests. As a result, Sussman's music illustrates equivocal worlds of sounds that are ambient, euphonious, and ethereal in nature. Sussman received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music with Honors in Composition from the NewEngland Conservatory of Music, where he received the Donald Martino Award for Excellence inComposition. He is currently pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Composition at theUniversity of Michigan. Among his many awards is the BMI Student Composer Award for his orchestral work - Kol Galgal.
Benjie Ellen Schiller
Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller(b. 1958), spent her childhood in Stamford, Connecticut, learned to play the piano initially on her own, mostly by improvising. Formal lessons followed, but as she has observed, her playing remained improvisatory. In her teen years she began writing songs—lyrics and music—of what she has since called a “folk nature,” with accompaniment for piano or guitar. When she was fifteen, she composed a setting of “May the Words of My Mouth,” the English prayer in the Reform prayerbook, to sing at her brother’s bar mitzvah celebration, and this inspired her to continue writing liturgical settings. “The prayer book has spoken to me ever since I was a teenager,” she remarked in a recent interview. She received her bachelor's degree in composition fromBoston University, and during that time sang with the John OliverChoraleand the Zamir Chorale of Boston. Now a nationally known composer, her works include "Life-Song Cycle," a series of pieces forJewish life passage ceremonies; "Halleluhu," a multi-rhythmic setting of Psalm 150; and various commissioned works for synagogues, choirs, and interfaith groups. In addition to her duties as cantor at Bet Am Shalom in White Plains, NY, Cantor Schiller is a Professor of Cantorial Arts atHebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Flory Jagoda (b.1926) was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia, a member of the Sephardic Jewish community.When the Sephardic Jews were forced into exile from Spain and Portugal in the 15th century, many settled in other Mediterranean countries but preserved their native language, calledLadino. Through her grandmother, Jagoda learned songs that had been passed down in her family for generations. She also became familiar with the region's Balkan cultural traditions. Jagoda escaped the destruction ofSarajevo's Jewish community and came to the United States after World War II. She has been recognized as an important carrier of a unique musical heritage and also as a composer and arranger of new Sephardic songs. In addition to passing that tradition onto her children, she has taught many students who now perform Ladino music.Today, she tours widely and her music is circulated through recordings and inThe Flory Jagoda Songbook. She is well known in the Washington, D.C. area for her willingness to perform at religious ceremonies, family celebrations and cultural events. Her performances are marked by musical beauty but also by her commitment to find meaning through affirmation of community in her personal experience.