Gospel Fusion: Gershwin and Beyond

Monday, April 29, 2013 at 8:00 PM
University of La Verne

a flyer for the LAJS concert "A World of Jewish Music"

The LAJS presented the concert Gospel Fusion: Gershwin and Beyond at the University of La Verne. Award-winning composer and singer Karen Hart soloed in her most celebrated choral work, “Judah and His Maccabees,” and Grace Zhao joined the LAJS for a brilliant performance of “Rhapsody in Blue.”


Pianist Dr. Grace Xia Zhao is an award-winning, international solo and chamber music artist with credits that include performances in the United States, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and China. She was a top-prize winner in the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, Ettlingen International Competition for Young Pianists, first place in the California Music Teachers’ Association Solo Piano Competition, and Brentwood/Westwood Symphony Concerto Competition.  Her performances have been broadcasted on KUSC (Los Angeles) and KASP (Aspen), and her playing has been characterized as being “performed at the highest level, with incredible musical sensibilities and beauty.”

Hazzan (Cantor) Paul Buch has served Temple Beth Israel’s since 2003 and is a graduate and ordainee of the Academy for Jewish Religion/California in Los Angeles (www.ajrca.org).

Cantor Buch leads music at religious services and life cycle events, teaches liturgy, scriptural chanting and music in our Beit Sefer (religious school) and mentors students preparing for Bar/Bat Mitzvah. He contributes musically throughout our congregation, and his soulful, energetic approach has been described as both “deeply spiritual” and “cheerleading for G-d.” He participates regularly in our Adult Jewish Learning program and currently leads our Intro to Judaism course.

Reed Gratz is a Professor of Music and department chair at the University of La Verne. He has taught at Washington State University, University of Miami, University of Innsbruck, Utrecht Conservatory and Leiden University in the Netherlands, and Claremont McKenna College.

He has been on the Advisory Board of the American Jazz Institute along with Mort Sahl, Lee Konitz, and Mark Masters. Gratz has been awarded a jazz composition grant from the NEA…

Cantor Judy Sofer’s goal is to create Jewish community and continuity, giving people positive experiences that will make them identify as Jews and be proud of their Judaism.

Cantor Sofer has a Master’s Degree in Directing from California State University and was ordained as a Cantor from Hebrew Union College in 1991.

Kol HaEmek (Voice of the Valley) is a cross-denominational Jewish community chorale comprised of singers from throughout the Pomona and San Gabriel Valleys. We sing a diverse and sophisticated repertoire of traditional and contemporary Jewish music that is exciting and fresh to singers and listeners alike. Our goals are to build community through Jewish music, provide joyful celebration of our heritage, and introduce new ways of understanding a variety of Jewish musical traditions.

A headshot of soloist, singer and drummer Karen Hart

In addition to the 2008 West Coast Songwriters’ Song of the Year, 2006 Barry Manilow Award for lyric writing, Los Angeles Women In Music’s Best of the Best 2010, Music Connection Magazine’s 2009 and 2010 “Top Performances That Have Moved Us,”  Karen Hart has been honored with three world premieres of her choral music at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.  In a wide-ranging career, Karen is the singing voice of Sigourney Weaver in the Showtime movie Snow White, wrote all the songs for the Divine cult classic comedy Lust In The Dust, and then turned around and sang at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II.  She has performed on numerous occasions with the Los Angeles Symphony, and her award-winning choral music is performed and recorded worldwide.  This past year, over 850 singers worldwide performed her most celebrated choral work, Judah and His Maccabees: A Hanukkah Gospel Story, including Judah’s debut in Israel.


Jewish Federation

Based on Jewish values, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles convenes and leads the community and leverages its resources to assure the continuity of the Jewish people, support a secure State of Israel, care for Jews in need here and abroad, and mobilize on issues of concern to the local community, all with our local, national, and international partners.

University of La Verne

The University of La Verne is home to nearly 8,000 full- and part-time students who are enrolled in more than 70 majors across four colleges and multiple campus locations. They are future lawyers, entrepreneurs, scientists, educators, professionals, and visionaries.

Temple Beth Israel

Temple Beth Israel is a warm, dynamic Reform Synagogue of over 400 families that serves the Pomona and San Gabriel Valleys of Southern California, approx. 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. At TBI you will find a community that celebrates Jewish tradition, kindles spiritual fulfillment, values Jewish study in all its variety, and vigorously participates in social justice.