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The Family Ensemble with a Lesson for Life

After preparing a recording in honor of their parents, these siblings went on to form a family Jewish music ensemble with a unique style.
By Yoni Kempinski
First Publish: 6/4/2013, 12:12 AM

Shevet Achim's Dvorah on  Flute
Shevet Achim's Dvorah on Flute
Shevet Achim

In "Beyond the Sounds", the Shevet Achim Family Ensemble's third album, classic, beloved Jewish melodies are delicately played in harmonious instrumental arrangements on flutes, clarinets and violin, accompanied by cello, string bass, piccolo, harp and piano. 

"The result is like a dream come true", say the members of the ensemble, "a dream come true to those who love authentic Jewish music, and to those who enjoy classical music, and are touched by Jewish niggunim".

Speaking with Arutz Sheva TV, Dvorah, the composer and arranger, speaks of what she gains and what she believes the audience can learn, from the work and cooperation in a family ensemble such as Shevet Achim.

The familiar and beloved melodies include the Friday night service's "Lecha Dodi" (to the Breslav melody), the haunting Sabbath song "Ka Echsof" (written and composed by the Rebbe of Karlin), and the excerpt form the Hallel prayer, "Keli Ata" (to the well-known Chabad melody). The instruments converge in lyrical harmony and  counterpoint throughout the album.

"The music hints of a hidden world beyond the sounds. That is left for each of us to discover personally", say the musicians, thereby explaining the reason for the album's name.


The musicians

The Shevet Achim Family Ensemble is indeed a family ensemble.

Rabbi Daniel Kohn, the chief clarinetist, is a well known lecturer and "spiritual coach" in Israel. His music reflects his years of mystic (Kabbalistic type) teachings, and his personality as an author and educator.

Kohn's sisters, Dvorah (the composer, arranger, flautist and piccolo player), and Ruchel (the violinist), as well as Dvorah's daughter Miriam (also a violinist) form the core of the family ensemble.

The harpist, Rivka Arki-Amar, has toured with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and plays with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as  various ensembles. The pianist, M. Zlotnik, is a graduate of Moscow's prestigious Gneisin Music Academy, and teaches and arranges music in the Jerusalem area. The cellist, Sara Dagan, the string bass player, Menucha Yoffe (of the Israel Philharmonic), the clarinetist, Yehudit Shrager, and the percussionist, Yona T. Yaacobowicz (of Tofa'ah) are all professional musicians.

In this album, Shevet Achim hosts the renowned clarinetist, Chilik Frank, whose expressive virtuoso style blends beautifully with that of the ensemble.

How did it all begin?

In honor of their parents' fiftieth wedding anniversary, the Kohn family looked for arrangements of Jewish niggunim for violin, clarinet and flute. As they didn’t find anything suitable, they wrote their own, striving for the beauty and expression of classical music, combined with the depth, emotion and purity of beloved Jewish niggunim. Their albums were a natural result, allowing a wide audience to have the opportunity to be moved by a uniquely Jewish musical experience.