Jewish A Cappella and Adir Hu (from the Passover Seder)
A traditional Pesach (Passover) seder can last well into the night. After the first-born sons break their day-long fast with wine (!), followed by snacks of greens, salt water, horseradish, and other tasty treats, the meal is served. The meal is not officially over until two more cups of wine and the singing of a few time-honored songs, including Echad, Mi Yodea?, Chad Gadya (a toughie--it's in Aramaic!), and, to close the night, Adir Hu, which is an alphabetical list of various attributes of God, from adir ("mighty") for the first letter, aleph, to tahor ("pure") for the last letter, tav.
In late twentieth-century America, the standard melody was a spritely, major tune which can best be described as playful. This is a fun way to close the evening. In 2000, however, Shircago was hired to perform Adir Hu (amongst other songs) at the Anti-Defamation League's African-American/Jewish Freedom Seder, an important event which originated in Boston as a way to bring two communities, which historically had been close but recently had been estranged, back together. The event spread to other cities, including Chicago. Director Loren Shevitz was inspired by this opportunity and composed a brand new version of Adir Hu, which has a more tribal, raw feel to it than the aforementioned spritely tune. Shevitz's Adir Hu is in 5/4, features vocal percussion, and showcases the soprano soaring to a high B some 13 notes above middle C. This Adir Hu was performed in 2000, 2004, and 2005 at the ADL's annual event.
Loren Shevitz's Adir Hu can be found as track #11 on Shircago's self-titled studio album.