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Jewish (Mostly) Sacred Music Survey with Daniel Newman-Lessler

Fifty and Better Lecture Series

Jewish (Mostly) Sacred Music Survey with Daniel Newman-Lessler

This lecture will explore Jewish sacred music and instruments from the biblical period to new music being written by today's leading Jewish composers. Topics will include: music from The Temple, music of the diaspora, Jewish women composers, music during and after the Holocaust, Niggunim, Jewish music by non-Jews and the multi-pronged development of the Jewish Cantor.

Daniel Newman-Lessler serves as the program administrator and choral director of Music Academy of the West’s Sing! program and conductor for Kadima Conservatory’s Senior Philharmonic. He was chorus master for Santa Barbara Symphony, interim director of choral activities at University of California Santa Barbara, assistant conductor for Grand Opera San Luis Obispo, a regular guest conductor of Channel Islands Chamber Orchestra and conductor for Rubicon Theatre’s production of "West Side Story." He also held assistant conducting positions with Los Angeles Zimriyah Chorale, Diamond Youth Symphony Orchestra and CSU Channel Islands Choir. Daniel studied under Gerard Schwarz at Eastern Music Festival as a conducting scholar and has conducted numerous premiers of works by microtonalist composers at UnTwelve Summer Festival.  

As a pianist, Newman-Lessler teaches at Pepperdine University and has won concerto competitions sponsored by Southwestern Youth Music Festival, Music Teachers Association of California (MTAC) and Thousand Oaks Philharmonic. He is a founding member of the Singer Chamber Players and has performed as a panelist for MTAC. 

As a singer, he has performed with Andrea Bocelli, Natalie Cole, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige and David Foster at Nokia Theatre, Capitol Records and Paramount Pictures. He has sung as a soloist with Chanel Islands Chamber Orchestra, UnTwelve Players, and also serves as the High Holiday Cantor at Temple Ner Ami.  

His compositions have been performed by violinist Clara Kim, USC Thornton University Chorus, UCSB Chamber Choir, Torrance Civic Chorale, Los Angeles Zimriyah Chorale, Temple Ner Ami Choir and UnTwelve Players. Upcoming premieres include pieces written for Brightwork Ensemble, 48 Saint Stephen, Collide-O-Scope Ensemble, Eckerd Concert Choir and microtonal guitarist Elynor Freyss. His research on Dave Brubeck’s "The Gates of Justice" received grant funding from University of the Pacific, and he serves as a lecturer for CSU Channel Island’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. 

Newman-Lessler graduated cum laude from University of Southern California with a master's degree in sacred music and bachelor's degree in piano performance. He is currently studying at Cal Arts as a Lilian Disney Scholar in the MFA Performer-Composer program.

The Fifty and Better program was designed to offer university-level courses (no tests, no homework) taught by experts in the field, and to host social engagement activities for individuals age 50 and older. When COVID-19 erupted and the first-ever offering of in-person courses had to be postponed indefinitely, we responded by moving the courses to a virtual environment using Zoom.

Cost for the two-hour lecture is $8. Registration is required by 3 p.m. March 5.


Register by Friday, March 5, at 3 p.m.

Sponsored By
Fifty and Better


Christina Tierney