Join the Spirit: Saturday, June 23, 2012 – 8:00 pm
A World Humanitarian Aid concert to benefit Jewish World Watch, a hands-on leader in the fight against genocide and mass atrocities, engaging individuals and communities to take local actions that produce powerful global results. Performers include Julie Silver, Amick Byram, Cassie Byram, Ilan Davidson and the 60-voice Faithful Central Bible Church choir with the L.A. Jewish Symphony along with a guest appearance by Congolese spoken-word artist, Omekongo Dibinga. Celebrity guest appearances from Ed Asner, Michael Strahan, and Denzel Whitacker will add to the excitement of the evening.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, is designed to be one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world, providing both visual and aural intimacy for an unparalleled musical experience.
The 2,265-seat auditorium with natural lighting in which the audience surrounds the orchestra was designed to look and feel like a ship’s hull. The Walt Disney Concert Hall is wheelchair accessible and Phonic Ear sound system headsets for the hard of hearing.
From the stainless steel curves of its striking exterior to the state-of-the-art acoustics of the hardwood-paneled main auditorium, the 3.6-acre complex embodies the unique energy and creative spirit of the city of Los Angeles and the Resident Companies that call the Concert Hall home.
Jewish World Watch (JWW)
Jewish World Watch (JWW) is a hands-on leader in the fight against genocide and mass atrocities, engaging individuals and communities to take local actions that produce powerful global results. Founded in 2004 by Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis and Janice Kamenir-Reznik as the Jewish response to the genocide in Darfur, it has grown from a collection of Southern California synagogues into a global coalition that includes schools, churches, individuals, communities and partner organizations that share a vision of a world without genocide.
JWW bears witness to first-hand accounts in conflict regions, partners with on-the-ground organizations to develop high-impact projects that improve the lives of survivors and help build the foundation for a safer world, and inspires our communities to support tangible projects and advocate for political change. JWW has raised more than five million dollars for relief and development projects that impact tens of thousands of people in Sudan and Congo.
It is the mission of Jewish World Watch to:
- Educate target constituencies by developing appropriate materials and programs;
- Advocate for policies to stop or prevent genocide and other atrocities through community organization and mobilization; and
- Develop resources and allocate funds towards relief and development projects aimed at empowering and alleviating the suffering of survivors.
Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis
Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis is one of the best-known pulpit rabbis in America, serving as Rabbi at Congregation Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California. He combined a Talmudic education at Yeshiva College with graduate studies in modern philosophical and theological thought at New York University, the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Pacific School of Religion, from which he received his Th.D. in theology. He has lectured in philosophy and theology at CCNY, the University of Judaism and Hebrew Union College.
Rabbi Schulweis has been instrumental in the development of synagogue programs such as the Synagogue Havurah Program (since adopted nationally), Para-professional Counseling Center, Para-Rabbinics and Jews-by-Choice, Outreach to the Developmentally Disabled (Shaare Tikvah and Chaverim), the VBS Day School, as well as addressing the issues of Jewish education and interfaith dialogue. He is the founding Chairman of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, an organization that identifies and offers grants to those non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews threatened by the agents of Nazi savagery. After the revelation of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, he recently founded the Jewish World Watch project to raise the moral consciousness within the Synagogue community. Synagogues and other religious institutions are now supporting this effort across the country.
Rabbi Schulweis has authored many books, including: Approaches to the Philosophy of Religion (Prentice-Hall), For Those Who Can’t Believe (Harper Collins), Finding Each Other in Judaism, In God’s Mirror, and two books of original religious poetry and meditation: From Birth to Immortality and Passages in Poetry. Currently, he is completing a book entitled Godliness (Jewish Lights). His Evil and the Morality of God (Hebrew Union College Press) is regarded as a classic.
He and his wife Malkah Schulweis are the proud parents of Seth and Kathleen, Ethan and Cindy and Alissa and Peter. They are blessed with nine grandchildren, the lights of their lives.
2012 Concert Performers
Cantor Ilan Davidson
Cantor Ilan Davidson has been pleasing audiences with his singing since before he could read. At age five, he began singing with his Cantor, Philip Moddel, and hasn’t shut up since. At ten, he made his Operatic debut with the Fullerton Civic Light Opera’s production of Bizet’s Carmen, as a street urchin. Since then, he has performed roles in and scenes from Die Zauberflote, Don Giovanni, Gianni Schicchi, L’Elisir D’amore, Les Pecheurs du Perles, and Manon, to name a few.
Besides his Operatic experience, Cantor Davidson also has extensive background, performing and directing theatre. He has performed such roles as Benny Southstreet in Guys and Dolls and Tony in Westside Story, and has produced many one man musical theatre reviews. Ilan has also been the musical and artistic director for many children’s theatre productions.
Among his many accomplishments, Cantor Davidson is also known as a contemporary Jewish songwriter and performer, having delighted audiences all over the world, including Israel and Lithuania with the soulful sounds of his music. As the owner of Davidsound Productions, the Cantor has produced many recordings, including his first original album, Stained Glass, in 1995. Most recently, Ilan’s band, The Moody Jews, released In A Hanukkah Mood. The Moody Jews are working on two more recordings in 2009, including Still In A Hanukkah Mood, a CD of new, original Hanukkah melodies.
After making the choice in 1991 to pursue a career in Jewish Education, Youth Work, and the Cantorate, Cantor Davidson left the stage and in 1995 joined the Temple Beth El family, in San Pedro, where he has brought many new programs and much enthusiasm to the community. In 2007, Cantor Davidson founded KindredSPIRITS, a non-profit humanitarian organization that inspires and educates diverse communities to support its global partners. The inaugural event premiered June 5, 2008 at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Whether it is Hazzanut, Pop, Opera, Musical Theatre, or Folk music, Cantor Ilan Davidson shares his soul and genuine love in every note.
When asked about his finest accomplishment, Cantor Davidson invariably responds, “After all the great concerts, services, and roles, my finest role in life is that of husband to my beautiful wife, Jodi, and daddy to my gorgeous daughters, Jordan and Zoe.”
Dr. “Dee” Diane White-Clayton
A native of Washington, DC, Diane was performing by age four and directing choirs by age nine; she was arranging and composing by eleven. She holds a Ph.D. and MA in Music Composition from the University of California at Santa Barbara and graduated with honors from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music with emphases in Composition, Voice, and Piano. Prior to graduate studies, Dr. White-Clayton was awarded the coveted Rotary Scholarship for a year’s study as an Ambassador of Goodwill to France. As a Rotary Scholar, she studied classical piano at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris and performed solo Gospel concerts throughout Europe.
Affectionately known as “Dr. Dee”, Diane travels extensively as a vocalist, pianist, composer, conductor, workshop clinician, and speaker. She has held numerous positions at universities, colleges and churches across the country including Artistic Director for the Washington Performing Arts Society Children of the Gospel choral program; Artist-in-Residence with the School of Music and Assistant Director of African-American Student Development at Appalachian State University; Artist-in-Residence for the Chaplaincy at Westmont College; Composer-in-Residence at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Scholar-in-Residence at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa; and Choral Conductor and Pianist at the New Christ Memorial Church under the legendary Pastor Andrae Crouch. She was commissioned by the Clarisse Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland to create a three-day symposium which she entitled “This is Her Story; This is Her Song: Black Women and Song” featuring performances and lectures about the contributions as Afro-American women as composers and vocalists. She currently teaches at Loyola Marymount University and is Director of Choral Music at the renowned Faithful Central Bible Church in Los Angeles, California under the leadership of Pastor Kenneth C. Ulmer where she founded the acclaimed Sacred Praise Chorale.
As a composer, Dr. Dee is most known for her choral anthems and has won much acclaim with her tremendous stylistic diversity, ranging from atonal classical pieces to contemporary gospel. A classically trained pianist and vocalist, she weds her virtuosic, mellow, gospel style with her soprano voice, stretching in a three-and-a-half octave range. Her performances captivate audiences, transporting listeners into glorious worship with her unique blend classical and gospel.
A licensed minister, she is a sought-after speaker who demonstrates God’s power through eloquence and fervor. She has published scores of compositions and self-produced two recordings, “In Stillness” and “Dr. Dee Live in DC: My Heart Says ‘Yes.'” Diane is married to the love of her life, former recording and touring R&B percussionist, Joe Louis Clayton of Los Angeles
Faithful Central Bible Church Choir
With the leadership of Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer, Senior Pastor-Teacher, and under the direction of Dr. Diane White, Minister of Music, the Faithful Central Bible Church Choir of Inglewood, CA consists of a combination of voices from four of its unique choirs: Men of Faith, Voices of Faith, One Voice, Sacred Praise Chorale and the Praise Teams.
Although each choir offers a distinct sound, together they produce a spirit-filled harmony! The Faithful Central Bible Church Choir or “FCBC” Choir (affectionately known) repertoire features traditional and contemporary gospel, as well as African American sacred music such as: spirituals, anthems and hymns. The soulful sound of worship from the FCBC Choir can be heard on their debut CD, “Zion Rejoice”.
With the aim of spreading the gospel to the nations, God has anointed Faithful Central to minister with Habitat for Humanity, the Israel Christian Nexus, Blue & White on Wilshire, at the Knotts Berry Farm’s Gospel Showcase, the Taste of Soul on Crenshaw, BET’s Dr. Bobby Jones Gospel Show, the Annual Holy Convocation with Bishop Gilbert Patterson, the Black Business Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center and the West Coast House of Blues “Gospel Brunch” on Sunset Blvd., just to share a few of these opportunities.
Dr. Noreen Green
DR. NOREEN GREEN, LAJS Founder, Artistic Director and Conductor, is also music director at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California, a renowned lecturer on Jewish music, and an accomplished educator. She is known world-wide for her knowledge and skill in presenting music with Jewish themes.
Green has received public recognition for her outstanding contributions to the multi-cultural musical scene in Los Angeles by Congressman Brad Sherman and by the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life. She has received the “Jewish Cultural Star” award presented by the National Foundation of Jewish Culture at The Jewish Image Awards, the “Golda Meir Award” from The State of Israel Bonds, the “Hall of Fame Award” from the National Association of Women Business Owners and the “Women of Significance Award” from Adat Ari El Sisterhood. She has been a featured speaker for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Upbeat Live series and conducted at the opening ceremonies of the 2001 Maccabi Games in Philadelphia. Dr. Green has been guest conductor for Jewish Music concerts with the Rubin Academy Orchestra in Tel Aviv, the Johannesburg Philharmonic, the Jerusalem Symphony at the new performing arts center in Herzliyah and the R’aanana Symphonette . Under her baton, LAJS has performed in concert with Hollywood personalities including Billy Crystal, Tovah Feldshuh, Leonard Nimoy, Randy Newman, Theodore Bikel, Laraine Newman, Valerie Harper, Pat Boone, Lainie Kazan, Fyvush Finkel, Dave Koz, Marvin Hamlisch, Roslyn Kind, David Benoit and others.
During her tenure with the LAJS, Green, along with Education Director Ilizabeth Gilbert, has developed education programs initially funded by the New and Innovate Grants division of the Jewish Community Foundation. Several of these programs have gone on to receive funding from the Righteous Persons Foundation, the Maurice Amado Foundation, the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, the Leonard and Susan Bay Nimoy Foundation and the Tel Aviv/Los Angeles Partnership. LAJS received a substantial education grant from the National Endowment of the Arts for its Patchwork of Cultures program which uses music to show the cultural bridge between the Sephardic Jewish and Hispanic communities.
Green received a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Choral Music from the University of Southern California and a Master of Music Degree in Choral Conducting at California State University, Northridge under conductor John Alexander. From 1981 to 1990, she was the conductor of the American Jewish Choral Society. As West Coast Music Director of the David Nowakowsky Foundation from1992 to 1998, Green presented an annual concert series of the Nowakowsky Chorale. She wrote her doctoral treatise on the music of Nowakowsky, and went on to edit many of his works, ten of which have been published by Laurendale.
From 1986 to 1992, Green was an Assistant Professor at CSUN and in the summer of 1993, she worked with conductor Murry Sidlin at the Aspen Music School. With his support and encouragement, she developed the concept for and founded the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony.
Amick Byram is a two time Grammy nominee, a successful solo recording artist, and one of the top session singers in Los Angeles.
Amick sang the role of Moses in the animated feature film, The Prince of Egypt. He has sung on hundreds of other films including: Shrek, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Hercules, Mulan, El Dorado, and The Matrix.
You have heard his voice on hundreds of commercials, several Broadway cast albums and Broadway concept albums. Some of these include Civil War, Jeckyl and Hyde, Sunset Boulevard and many others.
Amick recently recorded his first solo CD Encounter. It is a concept CD where each song represents a man from the Bible who sings a song at a critical turning point encounter with God. He has also recorded a brand new duets CD with his wife Cassie, called Hymns Renewed, featuring classic hymns that are musically refreshed.
As an actor, Amick has starred in many professional stage productions including Phantom of the Opera, (Broadway and LA), Les Miserables, in the roles of Marius and Enjolras, Sunset Boulevard as Joe Gillis playing opposite Glenn Close, Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar and many other musicals and plays from Shakespeare to Neil Simon. You may recognize him as Ian Troi, Counselor Troi’s father from Star Trek, The Next Generation. (For all the trekkies out there, he even has trading cards.) Some of Amick’s other television guest roles have been on Ally McBeal, Kristin, Fraser, Friends, Saved By the Bell, and Superior Court on which he appeared as a series regular for 3 seasons playing attorney Darrell Guillary.
Amick is also a theater director and producer. He was a producer of the musical Radio Gals in New York City at the John Houseman Theater on 42nd Street. Radio Gals continues to have successful productions mounted all over the country. He has directed five world premieres of new musicals including Ben Hur in Orlando, Florida, an 8 million dollar stage production. He also directed the world premiere of One to One, an original rock/multimedia musical. He also is the original director of the world premiere of the play David which has toured internationally. He also produced and directed Great Gershwin!, The Best of Broadway, and A Hollywood Tale which he also wrote. He recently directed Pinocchio and Mounette, a new adaptation of the classic tale for the stage written by Allan Jay Friedman and Bob Merrill (Carnival, Funny Girl, Sugar), and also the world premiere staging of the brand new musical, Aesop based on the life of the ancient Greek writer. He has also directed Les Miserables Brigadoon, School House Rock, Into the Woods, The Secret Garden and How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying. Amick is an alumni of the prestigious Lincoln Center Theater Director’s Lab West and is also an adjunct professor of theater at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California.
An award-winning actress, Cassie created the role of Diana in the new musical, Aesop. She also originated the role of Esther in the world premiere of Ben Hur, a new dramatic musical. She was seen in the world premieres of Masada at the Shubert Theater in Los Angeles with David Gaines, and originated the lead roles of Zipporah and Eve in Mendel and Moses at the Century City Playhouse. Cassie’s many other stage roles include Marguerite in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Christine in Phantom of the Opera, the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Marsinah in Kismet, Tuptim in The King and I, Mary in The Glory of Christmas, Guenivere in Camelot, and Maria in West Side Story, for which she received a Dramalogue Critics Award.
Cassie also has an active television career. For two years, she guest-starred on Jake and the Fat Man, playing Jake’s sister, Angie. She also co-starred in the pilot episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Journey to the Center of the Earth and Civil Wars and also appeared in the feature film, The Time Changers with Gavin Macleod and Jennifer O’Neill.
Cassie recently recorded a new duets CD called Hymns Renewed with her husband Amick. It features great classic hymns that have been musically refreshed. She can also be heard singing the solo “If I Loved You” in the film City Hall starring Al Pacino, and sang the title song to the animated film, Totoro.
Julie Silver is one of the most celebrated and beloved performers in the world of contemporary Jewish music today. She tours throughout the world, and has been engaging audiences with her lyrical guitar playing, her dynamic stage presence, and her megawatt smile for over 25 years. Without backing from a major label, Julie has sold more than 100,000 copies of her CDs. She has released 9 highly successful albums of original Jewish music, including songs that have become so tightly woven into the fabric of American Judaism that they have become “standards” in worship, camp, and academic settings.
In 2002 Julie released Notes from Montana, a collection of original folk/rock songs that featured a duet with the Academy Award winning actress Helen Hunt. Julie’s children’s CD, For Love to Grow, was released in spring 2005 and quickly honored as a Parents’ Choice Blue Ribbon Recommended work. It’s Chanukah Time, was recorded in 2007, and was the first Jewish holiday CD produced exclusively for the Barnes and Noble bookstore chain. It was also the ONLY Jewish album to ever be recognized on Billboard, peaking at #5 in 2009. Julie leads High Holy Day services at Kehillat Israel in Pacific Palisades, the largest Reconstructionist Synagogue in North America.
Julie plays regularly for The World Union of Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), Limmud UK, the largest European Jewish convention held in England, and the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) throughout North America. She also performs for The National Council of Jewish Women, American Jewish World Service, and The Religious Action Center.
During the summer of 2011, Julie sang the National Anthem before 38,000 fans at her beloved Fenway Park in Boston, a dream come true for a life-long Red Sox fan. A published author, Julie’s latest essay, “From Exile to Redemption” is included in the forthcoming anthology, “Dancing at the Shame Prom” (Seal Press, October 2012). Additionally, Julie made her acting debut in the feature film, Then She Found Me, in a scene opposite Bette Midler in 2008.
Silver lives in Southern California with her partner Mary Connelly, the Executive Producer of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and their two miraculous daughters, Sarah and Catherine.
Omekongo Dibinga is the UPstander. His life’s mission is to inspire all across the globe to take a stand when they witness an injustice, no matter how small or large. Omekongo is a motivational speaker, trilingual poet, CNN contributor, TV talk show host, and rapper. His Urban Music Award winning work has best been described by Nikki Giovanni as “outstanding, exciting, and new while being very old.” His book, From the Limbs of My Poetree was described by Essence Magazine as “a remarkable and insightful collection of exquisite poetry that touches sacred places within your spirit.” He was one of 5 international recipients out of 750,000 to win the first ever “CNN iReport Spirit Award.”
Omekongo’s music and writings have appeared alongside artists such as Sheryl Crow, Angelina Jolie, Norah Jones, Damien Rice, Angelique Kidjo, Don Cheadle, and Mos Def. He has shared the stage with Wyclef Jean, OutKast, Sonia Sanchez, Dennis Brutus, and The Last Poets. Internationally, he has shared his work in 19 countries on 3 continents. He is the host of the talk show “Real Talk”, which deals with issues facing our youth today. His work has been featured on Oprah’s Angel Network as well as on TV and radio from CNN, BET, and the BBC to NPR, Music Choice, and Voice of America in millions of homes in over 150 countries.
Omekongo has studied at Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Georgetown, Morehouse, and The Fletcher School, where he received his M.A. in Law & Diplomacy. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in International Education Policy at The University of Maryland, where he worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Teaching Diverse Students Initiative,” as well as a Teaching Assistant to Dr. Michael Eric Dyson at Georgetown. He provides educational and diversity empowerment as a consultant and motivational speaker for organizations, associations and institutions. He has featured/lectured nationwide in venues from TEDx and Harvard to Russell Simmons’ Hip-Hop Summit and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. His rap mixtape series “Bootleg” promotes positive hip-hop with remixes of songs by Tupac, Notorious BIG, Jay-Z, Nas, 50 Cent, and others.
Omekongo’s publishing company, Free Your Mind Publishing, a subdivision of his organization, UPstander International, has produced 7-fusion music and motivational CDs, 6 books, and one independent DVD. His motivational book “G.R.O.W. Towards Your Greatness! 10 Steps to Living Your Best Life” has received praise from great motivational speakers such as Willie Jolley. His most recent book “The UPstander’s Guide to an Outstanding Life” is a college-life balance for student activists.