Musical Biography

 “What Jill does is soul work.”

Whether accompanying herself on guitar and troubadour harp or singing a cappella, Jill Rogoff brings to her audiences a rich tradition of music from around the world. Originally from New Zealand, she currently lives in Jerusalem, and has mined the musical heritage of many cultures. Her repertoire embraces traditional Celtic and British Isles songs, Jewish music from various communities, early music, and contemporary material that also includes her own songs. Over many years, Jill has appeared at the Jacob’s Ladder Folk Festival (the national folk-music event in Israel), the Yehiam Renaissance Festival, the Rehovot Early Music Festival and the Abu Ghosh Vocal Festival; in 2006, she featured at the International Festival of Bards. She has featured on several radio and television programs in Israel, North America, Great Britain, Germany, Spain and New Zealand. While she usually sings solo, she has also sung with many musicians in Israel, Great Britain and Europe.

Jill also sets to music poems in several languages. One setting was chosen as the theme music of a documentary about Beit Agnon in Jerusalem, a meeting-place for local writers, and in 2004 she was commissioned by Ben-Gurion University of Beersheva (Israel) to set to music a poem by R. Yehuda Halevi. In 2014, some of her harp music was used in an Israeli documentary, Dilarosa’s Inscription

In 1998 Jill sang Schubert lieder in a series of concerts in Israel, and continued her classical music studies with Judi Axelrod, Neil Jenkins, Philip Griffin, Evelyn Tubb and Anthony Rooley of the Consort of Musicke, Poppy Holden and the late Margaret Peckham.

Her study of early music continued with participation in international workshops with members of The Dufay Collective, Vivien Ellis, Sirinu, members of The Boston Camerata, Marcin Bornus-Szczyciński, Oswald Hebermehl, Bari Moscovitz-Seidelman, Jiří Hodina, and Bill Taylor.

While mainly self-taught on the lever harp, she has also participated in workshops with Sunita Staneslow, Shira Kammen, Gráinne Hambly, Mary Macmaster, Monika Stadler, Ventura Rosenthal, William Jackson, Nicolas Carter and Alfredo Rolando Ortiz. In 2007, she was placed first in the harp competition at the Richmond Highland Games and Celtic Festival in the USA.

Her workshops and tours in the United States of America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand have all been highly successful. Jill has given several sold-out concerts at the prestigious Abu Ghosh Vocal Festival near Jerusalem; in one of her appearances there in 2005, she collaborated with Israeli cellist Adiel Shmit in an unusual program of Bach and traditional Ladino songs. She returned to the Abu Ghosh Vocal Festival in spring 2007, with a program of rare Franco-Flemish Renaissance music (inter alia) with viola da gamba player Amit Tiefenbrunn, and in 2010 stepped in at the last minute to sing with harpsichordist Jochewed Schwarz in a series of early-music concerts in various locations around Israel. In the autumn of  2010, 2012, and 2014 she returned to Prague, to sing in the famous Spanish Synagogue, as part of the St. Wenceslas Festival of Sacred Arts.

Jill presented an all-Italian program at the 2010 Yehiam Renaissance Festival, and then a program of music from the 7th to the 17th centuries at Yehiam in 2013.

In August 2018, while attending an international conference on medieval music in southern Sweden, Jill gave a revised version of her early music program Secret Journeys of the Soul in a 12th-century chapel. This was part of a concert series in the region.

For many years, Jill has taken some of her programs into private homes (parlour concerts) throughout Israel and in Australia and the USA. She continues to prepare new solo concert programs (see the Concert Programs pages) and has featured as an artist-in-residence in universities, schools and religious communities.

She has recorded ten solo albums to date. Through An Open Door, released in 1990, features a range of traditional songs from England, Ireland and Scotland. (Now available as a CD only, by special arrangement with Jill.) The Celtic Cradle, released in 1995 in North America, is a rare and varied collection of traditional lullabies. The album was honoured in 1995 with the Gold Seal from NAPPA, (the National Parenting Publications Awards) and the Parent’s Choice Silver Honour Award. Most of the songs are sung in the original Celtic tongues (Gaelic, Scots Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, Cornish and Breton). Her third solo release, in 1997, is Across the Narrow Seas. This collection focuses mainly on Ireland and Scotland, but also includes Jill’s setting of a poem by the late Poet Laureate of Britain, C. Day-Lewis. The King’s Well, released in 2003, features some of her own songs and poem-settings. A non-commercial, live, benefit album, In the Heart of Winter [2006], presents songs by the late singer-songwriter Ray Scudero and other contemporary writers. (Out of print.) Jill’s acclaimed fifth commercial album, The Voice of the Wanderer [2006], showcases traditional Jewish music from around the world in several languages. Her 2012 album, A Lone Voice, presents mainly traditional British Isles songs completely a cappella. For Healing and Harp Music for Babies [2013] present part of the harp repertoire that Jill uses in therapeutic settings. Still Life [2015] is her tenth solo album, and reflects several different genres that she sings: her own songs and poetry-settings, traditional British Isles songs, and songs by other contemporary songwriters. See the Albums pages for details and ordering information.

An album of new love songs in Ladino — on which Jill sings five tracks — was released in Israel in 2002, to international acclaim. Dí Ke No Es Tadre [Say It’s Not Too Late] features poems by Matilda Koén-Sarano set to music by Avraham Reuveni.

Jill was a founding member of the IFS, the national folk music association in Israel. She was editor of its monthly publication, FolkNotes and wrote reviews and articles for many of its issues. In 2002, she helped to form Nevel: The Jerusalem Harp Network. As part of her involvement with Nevel, she trained and qualified as a therapeutic musician, and worked with the sick and the terminally-ill in a local Jerusalem hospital for over fifteen years. She continues this work in private settings. Jill participated in a forum about the therapeutic side of music at the first Israeli Harp Festival in Jaffa in 2011 and continues to give illustrated talks and interviews (both in newspapers and on television) about this part of her work whenever and wherever possible. She has published several articles about it in the Harp Therapy Journal; you can see them elsewhere on this site. At the second Israeli Harp Festival in Jaffa (2014) she gave a workshop on playing early music on the harp, and participated in a voice-and-harp concert.

On the ethno-musicological side, Jill has completed a unique compilation of Jacobite songs, incorporating 302 songs in English, Lallands, Scots Gaelic, Gaelic, Manx Gaelic and Cornish, which she hopes to see e-published in the near future; another recent project was the preservation of some rare traditional French songs, which will soon be available from this site. She is helping to preserve for posterity some little-known macaronic Jewish songs from the Balkans, and has been invited to do the same for the repertoire of para-liturgical music of the Italian Jewish community.

Jill continues giving concerts, school concerts, illustrated lectures, workshops and private lessons. Contact her here.

King David