The Kol Nidre has fascinated composers such as Beethoven, Schoenberg and Max Bruch for centuries.
More recently, it has caught the attention of Guitarist and Sitarist Nicolas Jolliet of "Psycho Key", who has taken the Kol Nidre "East", using the Sitar, Surbahar, Tabla, Oud, Dombek and other exotic instruments.
Jolliet composed and recorded his Kol Nidrewhile on the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia, which may explain why it evolves from traditionalragas into a seductive Reggae beat.
The Jolliet Kol Nidre has been written in two parts.
The first closely follows the original. (It is included here, on Soundcloud, as "Kol Nidre 1"); The second is a free interpretation using the richly textured sounds of the East. (It is included here, on Soundcloud, as Kol Nidre 2);
"The Kol Nidre set fire to my musicians soul", says Jolliet. "Musicians will forever be attracted to its spiritual and musical power."
Although the Kol Nidre CD is available for charge at kolnidre.org Jolliet has decided to make his Kol Nidre available for free using the very kind auspices of Soundcloud.
"As Yom Kippur 2011 approaches, I would like to make my work freely available to those who might appreciate it", says Jolliet. "I hope it gives them a great deal of pleasure."
In 2006, the Jolliet Kol Nidre was played at the Kol Nidre service at a U.S. Armed Services base in the Afghanistan war zone, at Kandahar.
That service became the subject of an award-winning Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio documentary co-produced by the renowned CBC documentary producer Steve Wadhams and Toronto Star journalist Harold Levy.
As the CBC promoted the documentary: "How did an unusal setting of the ancient Jewish prayer "Kol Nidre" get heard by soldiers in the war zone of Afghanistan? AskToronto's Harold Levy, His son-in-law-Nick, and a retired American army officer currently on special assignment in Kabul."
Through this documentary, the Jolliet Kol Nidre turned up as a finalist in radio competitions in Croatia and New York. We wonder where it will turn up next.
Nicolas Jolliet was inspired to compose his own version of the Kol Nidre after hearing it chanted by a Cantor and performed on traditional instruments such as the Cello, violin and piano - and realizing that, "It sits between classical music and Eastern music in its notes and style."
Above all,Jolliet concluded that the Sitar was a natural instrument for the Kol Nidre because of, "Its ability to emulate the voice and the way that it can cry, modulate, and play around the notes like a Cantor would".
However, Jolliet quickly discovered that although the main theme of the Kol Nidre came naturally to the Sitar, other parts of the work came from the chording which would be difficult to capture on a drone instrument which has only one chord with melodies on top of it.
Jolliet, who was born in Geneva on January 11, 1974, overcame this limitation by super-imposing counter-point melodies over dubbed Sitars to create the chording.
"It was very challenging because the Sitar uses lots of pitch bends which largely depend on the feel of the moment, as, for example, where a third minor can be slightly flat, unlike the tempered scale of a piano," he says.
"So it was very difficult to play the counter-point and match the feel of the first Sitar."
The essence of the Jolliet Kol Nidre has been masterfully expressed by the revered sitarist, teacher, and musicologist John Campana. who wrote:
"The prayer has returned East once more, but still can't be contained by mere geographic boundaries. Its appeal is borderless, being at once an expression of microscopic and macroscopic sorrow, atonement and yearned forgiveness. Its strains, at first awesome, soon enfold you in a feeling of eternal calm and release from earthly frailty. Not having been schooled in Hebrew and Aramaic, and ignorant of the prayer's interesting history, it is the music which continues to enrapture and to resonate within me. In the Sitar, the prayer has found yet another voice to express its universality, Nico's sincere and well executed rendition of the prayer admirably contributes to its continued existence and permanence in the lives of men and women. To me Kol Nidre has always evoked the same feeling of strength and vulnerability as the Hindustani evening Shree raag: It too is cosmic in its thrust, the image of a strong man weeping, and the breath of the soul in the twilight hour."