Michael Hunter Ochs Anthology: A Preview
Welcome to a preview of the Michael Hunter Ochs Anthology...a 27 song retrospective of some of Michael's most well known songs and many newer works that have never been made available until now. The Anthology comes with a password to unlock the complete Anthology web page where you will find a wide array of bonus material and tools to bring help you bring the music to life: MP3s and/or live performance videos of each song, piano tutorials, a behind the scenes look at the songwriting process, conversations with the cantors who commissioned particular songs, multiple arrangement suggestions, and more. To purchase the Anthology or individual pieces click here.
Thank you for listening, for singing along, and for sharing these songs with your community.
Complete Anthology Song List:
A New Year * Adon Olam * Barchu * Echad Wahed * Eitz Chayim * Hashkiveinu * Kein Y'hi Ratzon * L'chah Dodi 1 * L'chach Dodi 2 * L'chah Dodi 3 * Mi Chamocha * Mi Shebeirach * Modim Anachnu Lach * A Mourner's Song * Oseh Shalom * R'tzeih * Shalom Rav * Sh'ma * Song For Ruth * Upon My Shoulders * Va-anachnu * V'shamru * We Return To You * When We Sing * Yeish Kochavim * Yih'yu L'ratzon * Y'varechecha
“He wrote words that ignited smiles, delight and meaning. He set it to music that lifted our souls...the result was a song sung by millions.”
— Rabbi Peter J. Rubenstein, Director of Jewish Community and Bronfman Center for Jewish Life (92nd Street Y)
With an unprecedented 10 million views on social media "A New Year" is a tribute to the powerful message of hope and renewal of the New Year - and to the art of collaboration. I cannot overstate the impact on this song of Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein and his team at the 92Y. I am ever grateful to have been commissioned to write this piece and to play my small part in this project.
One part lullaby. One part prayer. Notice how the original melody that Shira sings in Hebrew can be sung by the second vocal either with the identical melody - as an echo - or can be played with, as I do here. Feel free to experiment with a call and answer with your community -- let the congregation sing the Hebrew refrain over and over while the Cantor of soloist sings the English counterpoint. The full anthology web site contains more performance notes and a behind the song video with Michael and Cantor Ginsburg.
This song means so much to me...written while my dad was in the middle of his stem cell transplant just before Biennial, 2005. It is my deepest and most sincere hope this piece brings comfort and healing to you, your congregation and loved ones. On certain Shabbats, if there is somebody on my mind during Mi Shebeirach, I might end the song by repeating the call and answer for a full minute...a capella. The full Anthology web page also includes a "band" version of Mi Shebeirach.
Freedom (Mi Chamocha)
In this reimagining of the song the Jewish people sand during the Exodus from Egypt, each verse of Freedom looks at modern forms of slavery...slavery to hatred, prejudice, the holding of grudges, and the walls that divide people and perpetuate stereotypes. Uptempo, entirely original...and easily lends itself to be played by the most accomplished or novice temple bands and musicians.
Thank you to Cantor Shira Ginsburg. It was her idea to commission a song for mourners. We decided quickly that it had to be rooted in the traditional kaddish, to feel familiar. But it also needed to incorporate something more, something that would help connect those in mourning, or those remembering, to their loved ones. In English. Hours of research about Judaism and death ensued and the result is this song that weaves lines from the mourner's kaddish and 23rd psalm together with original English lyrics...like the waves upon the sea are separate and connected, you are gone and still by my side. As the seasons must change to dust we must return again, but love, love, love...never dies.
Above: a live video recording of A Mourner’s Song followed by a “behind the song” video about the writing process, and a studio recording.
A feel good, uptempo tribute to the many versions of "Adon Olam" that put a smile on my face as a child. Notice the dramatic tempo and feel changes, the optional modulation, and call and answer vocals and counterpoint on the chorus. Everything but the kitchen sink! I'm so happy Cantor Shira Ginsburg not only commissioned this piece but INSISTED it include all the verses! Try it as a solo piece or with your choir and band!
Above: A live run through of Adon Olam and a studio recording. The full Anthology web page also includes a short piano tutorial and a "look Behind The Song"with Cantor Shira Ginsburg - who commissioned the piece through East End Temple.
Really all this song needs is a guitar or piano and a single, still, small voice. I'm so deeply moved by this stunning and emotional interpretation by my friend, Cantor Sheera Ben David. The full Anthology web page also includes the original Gesher version.
Written in Berlin and performed spontaneously at a service to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, 2008. Ironically I'm actually in Berlin right now as I build this webpage and as Joe Eglash and I put the final touches on the manuscript for the Anthology.
Lisa and I wrote this almost by accident one evening while rehearsing for Yom Kippur. Take note of the chromatic chord changes that lead from the Hebrew verses to the English chorus...there are stars. Also...I think I began with the tempo a little bit too fast in this clip. It was the week after all the High Holy Days, and after a particularly long Shabbat with a guest lecturer...so maybe I was a bit tired and rushed it. But I think the song still comes across and otherwise I feel good about this performance. The point...don't rush this song. Let it meander, let it breathe...give the lyrics time to reach the stars.