Amanda Monaco’s “Pirkei Avot Project” draws its inspiration from a collection of texts of the same name. Containing over six hundred years of rabbinical teachings, the Pirkei Avot was compiled in the third century C.E. and has been a focus of Jewish scholarship ever since. Monaco has composed and recorded a suite of music inspired by these teachings, using excerpts – sung in the original Hebrew and Aramaic in which they were written – as the lyrics for each piece. Using Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro’s Wisdom of the Jewish Sages: A Modern Reading of Pirkei Avot as a guide, the pieces address universal themes applicable to all people searching for thought-provoking life lessons. The music ranges from Israeli dance music and off-kilter waltzes to modern jazz.
The Pirkei Avot Project, Vol. 1 has been performed at the Boston Jewish Music Festival, Drom NYC, Cornelia St. Café and several synagogues in New England and NYC. Vol. 2 will be recorded in late 2015 with a springtime 2016 release date.
“Beautiful music that captures the enduring nature of Pirkei Avot’s advice and wisdom as well as the intriguing aspects of its methodology…her arrangements skillfully keep the ideas intact while placing the ancient conundrums and declarations within a postmodern universalism.”
– Elliot Simon, The New York City Jazz Record
“Taking eight short excerpts from Pirkei Avot, a compendium of rabbinical aphorisms, jazz guitarist Amanda Monaco creates a wise and playful interpretation of some serious material.”
– Matthew Kassel, The Jewish Forward