Intermountain Jewish News

Nov 28th
Home IJN Special Sections Israel Independence From Israel to Colorado Springs: Music is a prayerful dance

From Israel to Colorado Springs: Music is a prayerful dance

E-mail Print PDF

Prof. Ofer Ben-AmotsOfer Ben-Amots was just six when he dared touch the new piano in his Haifa home. It was love at first sound — and they’ve been married ever since. Fifty-two years later, the world famous composer marvels at the relationship between accident, design and G-d in human destiny.

“The story of how that piano arrived at our house is an interesting one,” Ben-Amots explains in the IJN conference room. “My grandfather was Bulgarian and spent three years in an internment camp there during the Holocaust.

“In 1961, he was notified that he was entitled to reparation in the form of money, a car or a piano. He wanted the piano.”

Ben-Amots, who was born in 1955 in Haifa, started studying the piano at six, gave his first recital at nine — “Mozart, Bach, Israeli folk tunes” — and composed his first song in the Israeli folkloric tradition at 12.

“That was a very naïve attempt,” smiles Ben-Amots, 58. “But I immediately felt that if I could invent melodies that fit with words, it’s the best thing I could ever do.”

Chair of the Colorado College music department for 19 years and a prolific composer, he has given considerable thought to the human-divine partnership in the creative process.

“I am as secular as you can go on the one hand, and as religious and pious as you can be on the other,” he laughs. “I don’t know how to put the extremes together. But I love it all.”

His numerous compositions — “From Darkness to Light,” “Celestial Dialogues,” “The Dybbuk Suite,” “The Heart and the Fountain” — encompass opera, orchestra, and intimate arrangements for cantor and klezmer.

A student of Israeli composer Ram Da-Oz, who also taught him how to tune pianos in Haifa, as well as distinguished professors at universities in Switzerland, Germany and the US, Ben-Amots flies high the wings of his talent.

Although Ben-Amots clearly loves Mozart and Bach, he gravitates toward Jewish themes. Whether utilizing psalm or legend, the composer gives an exquisite voice to his heritage.

“Every folk genre has its idiosyncrasies,” he says. “But Judaism is different because there was a tremendous historical gap. In the beginning you heard incredible music in the Temple: very advanced, the singing of psalms, ‘hallelujah.’ Then, when the Temple was destroyed, music was suddenly forbidden.

The rest of this article is available in the IJN's print edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at (303) 861-2234 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated ( Friday, 12 April 2013 08:18 )  

IJN e-Edition

This is only a taste! Get full access to the IJN via our e-Edition, only $14.04 for IJN Print subscribers.

E-Edition subscribers get access to a complete digital replica of the IJN, which includes all special sections.

Get the IJN's free newsletter!

Shabbat Times

JTA News

Half of Birthright applicants flunked this Israel test – can you do better?

Gabe Friedman To test your own knowledge, try JTA’s interactive quiz made up of 15 of the study’s questions. ... [Link]

Some Jewish refugees really were Nazis, and other illuminating facts

Ron Kampeas The United States grappled with how to deal with a refugee crisis, and folks complained that they would harbor hostile infiltrators. Five facts about Jewish refugees hoping for U.S. entry in the 1930s... [Link]

United Arab Emirates: Israel mission not sign of changed relations

Julie Wiener Israel is the only member of the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Association to have a separate mission accredited to the association. ... [Link]

Border Police officer wounded in Nahariya stabbing; 43 Palestinians said hurt in skirmishes

Julie Wiener After stabbing the 37-year-old officer twice in the back near the Nahariya central bus station Friday night, the assailant fled the scene ... [Link]

From ‘Amy Winehouse sound’ creators, a funky Hanukkah anthem

Gabe Friedman Retro band Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings kicks off its new holiday album with “8 Days of Hanukkah” — an upbeat marriage of catchy soul music and Jewish cultural references. ... [Link]

Alan Gross: Memory of Holocaust survivor relatives got me through Cuban prison

Julie Wiener (JTA) — Alan Gross, the American Jewish government contractor who spent five years in Cuban prison, said thinking of his family members who survived the Holocaust was one of three things that helped... [Link]

8 of the coolest menorahs for this Hanukkah season

Gabe Friedman Another Hanukkah season means another chance to impress with a creative menorah choice. ... [Link]

Report: Senior Israeli officials fear PA collapse

Ben Harris The diplomatic-security cabinet held lengthy discussions about the possibility of a PA collapse Wednesday and Thursday, Haaretz reported, citing three sources who either attended the meetings or were ... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942 • •