Concert Reviews & Audience Responses

Singing at the Abu Ghosh Vocal Festival, May 2007.

Singing at the Abu Ghosh Vocal Festival, May 2007; copyright: Mike Rogoff.

“It’s difficult to find words to describe her performances — it’s as if every cell of her body exudes music in the most gentle, charismatic manner.” — M-J. R.

“Jill, thank you for honoring us with your lovely musical talent. I was so intrigued by the graceful movement of your hands as you played the harp, and the expressive lyrics of your songs.” — C. P.

“Jill creates her own kind of magic.” — Miriam Meltzer

“What a bonus to hear you perform! Thank you again for sharing your gift.”


“Jill has a magnificent voice! Beautiful. Just beautiful!”

“Jill gives her listeners wings!” — H. F.

“I once read: ‘He (or she) who sings prays twice.’ Your music brings prayer to our ears. Thank you.” – D. R.

“I love the spirit of what Jill sings and plays, her selection of songs; listening, you enter another universe.” — Shoshana Levi, therapeutic harper

“I know as simple fact like I know the sun will come up tomorrow that any time I miss a Jill Rogoff concert, I miss something beautiful and uplifting. I so enjoy the glory of her voice. I so enjoy her harp. Not many times in life do we get to hear such music.” — Sasha Sadan, journalist

“Jill, you make the walls sing!”

“Your concerts sound great – I am not surprised your public cheers. You just sing in a very pleasant voice and manner something which speaks direct to one’s heart. What a gift! Fantastic! A wonderfully versatile lady singer.” — Michaela Freemanova, musicologist

“Jill is the most astonishing musician I’ve ever heard.” — O.W.

“Your voice is spectacular!” — P.H.

“Jill has such a wonderful voice and wonderful technique, and she must be one of the most talented singers I’ve heard.” — A. T.

“Jill is unique: she has all this vocal training but insists on using it in a totally natural voice.” — David Freeman

“Jill is an unusual musician, with a charming, intelligent approach to her music.”

“Ah, Jill. The one with the voice like a bell.” — Yitzhak Navon, fifth President of Israel

“Jill seems to have something unique that affects people from places and cultures far apart. Something that brings them into contact with feelings that are at once personal and private and yet shared by all of us.” — H. F.

“She is extremely talented, and I enjoyed the concert. God has blessed her with so many wonderful gifts. She brings such joy to everyone.”

“She is amazing! I love her kind of music.”

“Jill’s wonderful and moving performance… was the icing on the cake.” — V. C.

Celtic knot

Jill’s ‘comeback’ at the October session of the Jerusalem Folk Evenings, 2017:

“You were magnificent! Every one a gem.” 

“Your voice is still as clear as a bell.”

“It was beautiful, and really inspiring.”

“You are a treasure. I loved how you controlled your voice so beautifully, how it all flowed…”

Celtic knot

Benefit house concert,  Melbourne, Australia, February 10, 2014

“… a beautiful evening.”

“It was Wonderful!”

“It was an absolute pleasure seeing Jill perform in Melbourne. She works with therapeutic music in the hospitals of Jerusalem, bringing comfort, joy and hope to sick children and adults. Her music speaks to our hearts, and fills us up with wonder and warmth… it’s an evening I’ll cherish for a long time!”

“Jill’s voice: what a sound! I’m blown away.”

“We really loved your music and words of inspiration. What I particularly loved was seeing you so fully vitalized and joyful about what you are doing in the world.”

Celtic knot

Shining Star, Hear My Call
Tradition and Ritual in the British Isles

from Abu Ghosh Vocal Festival

[Translated extract from a review by Haggai Hitron in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, May 19, 2002]

Yesterday’s concerts at the Abu Ghosh Vocal Festival presented a welcome diversity, and scraped the rust off the term ‘festival’, a title that has become tedious through overuse. One starred Jill Rogoff. Her performance in the ancient hall of the Crusader church (excellent acoustics) was another world… here the high standard: a wondrous experience, I may say, was [achieved] precisely because of the restraint, the intimacy, the spare approach. Rogoff has a voice that caresses; and accompanying herself on lap harp and guitars, she introduced the folk-music tradition of the British Isles (in English and several forms of Gaelic) with a long and delightful flow of humanity and gentleness.

Celtic knot

Jill’s concert tour in the USA, October 2007

“Jill is a beguiling singer, with a healing voice.”

“I don’t know how it’s done, but Jill creates around herself a magical, ethereal space.”

“She is more than magnificent: she’s fantastic!”

“Jill has a really lovely, bell-like voice.”

“Splendid! Jill is so versatile, but does it all so well.”

“We are still talking about her outstanding style and voice as well as enjoying the CDs.”

Celtic knot

Per Amore Cantare: Between Heaven and Earth
St Andrew’s Memorial Church, Jerusalem, June 13, 2009

“Jill was magnificent. She clearly has a great deal of knowledge, and puts the music and texts into historical perspective, which makes the whole experience even more meaningful.”

“Enjoyable. Uplifting. So much more.”

“Music from a totally different place. It was a beautiful, finely balanced program and Jill was simply at her best.”

Celtic knot

from Jacob’s Ladder Folk Festival The Voice of the Wanderer, May 4 and 5, 2007

“Jill is the Hollow Bone!”

“This concert was definitely one of the highlights of the festival.”

“Stunning! Just stunning!”

“Jill is doing holy work, presenting these songs (many of them rarely heard) in a traditional manner, so that they are not forgotten. She makes them live again.”

Celtic knot

Jill’s concert tour in the USA, October-November 2006

“Jill exudes talent and warmth. We enjoyed her greatly.”

“She’s the most amazing singer I’ve ever heard!”

“We would like to thank you for the spectacular performance you gave at our home on October 26, and are qvelling about the fact that we were able to share such a special evening with our friends and family. Thank you for being such a significant part of this memory.”

“Jill was absolutely beautiful!”

Celtic knot

Under the Summer Moon

(with Betty Klein), Sergio’s Courtyard, Jerusalem, July 20, 2006

“Gorgeous, gorgeous singing!”

“Jill doesn’t just sing well in Greek: she sings beautifully in it, and with such expression!”

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from Abu Ghosh Vocal Festival
Love’s Shining Circle , June 11, 2005

“It was really beautiful, and full of soul.”

“She is an angel!”

“Every song was so special, so fine. Each one brought tears to my eyes.”

“Each song was deeply felt, and yet Jill managed to be funny and charming too.”

“I was so moved by your performance! I cannot remember a time when a vocalist moved me to tears, but you did.”

Celtic knot

Bach Meets the Sephardi Tradition
(with Adiel Shmit, cello), June 13, 2005

“A beautiful concert.”

“A wonderful concert, it was very special and very unusual.”

“Several people need convincing that Jill is not actually Spanish!”

Celtic knot

from Jacob’s Ladder Folk Festival, May 20-21, 2005

“…Ben Sands, an engaging folksinger and storyteller from Northern Ireland, observed, amid songs old and new… that this peaceful gathering at the fabled Sea of Galilee amounted to something of a miracle. For my part, as I sat dreamily through a set of soft Celtic tunes sweetly rendered by the New Zealand-born Jerusalemite Jill Rogoff, I thought less about Jesus than of Lerner and Loewe, the Jewish authors of the Broadway musical ‘Brigadoon.’ Their idyllic Scottish village appears only once in a hundred years. Thank heaven that Jacob’s Ladder comes around more often than that.” — Stuart Schoffman, The Jerusalem Report, June 13, 2005

“Ben Sands and Jill Rogoff were exceptional and made the festival for me, as for many of the large crowd… Jill is another world-class singer/performer/collector… She gave a solo performance that was simply electrifying. She hypnotised the audience with both her a cappella singing, and her self-accompaniment on guitar (in an open-D tuning) and lap-harp. The lass knows Breton, Irish (Gaelic) and Scots Gaelic, and the differences between them (and can explain them), and sings in them in a natural manner. Her repertoire changes from one performance to the next and has expanded — apparently endlessly — with the years. Her stage presence has also grown tremendously during the years, and it’s no wonder that she’s invited to appear around the world. We’re lucky that she lives here.”

“Amazing! … The best concert I’ve heard in thirty years!”

“Jill gave a special program of unknown lyrical songs and lullabies in forgotten languages of the British Isles and Brittany — different, delicate and moving.”

“My favorite performance of all was by Jill Rogoff. What a talent! What an artist! I’m speechless.”

“…music from another world.”

“I was swept away by her performance… and her voice, presentation and instrumental accompaniment… gave me goose bumps and put tears in my eyes. Simply beautiful.”

“I have never seen anybody hold so many people in their hand!”

“It was really nice having Jill back.”

Celtic knot

Newspaper reviews from Jill’s concert tour in Germany, October 2004
— the English translation follows each different review

Marburger Neue Zeitung, 15. Oktober, 2004
Der Zauber einer Stimme

(jum).Wie eine Wildblume lautete das Konzertmotto der israelischen Saengerin Jill Rogoff. Und mit einer bezaubernd zarten Stimme, wie der einer Wildblume, begeisterte sie ihre Zuhoerer in der Universitaetskirche. Die Juedische Gemeinde hatte Rogoff im Rahmen des Juedischen Kulturherbstes auch in diesem Jahr zu einem Benefiz-Konzert zugunsten der neuen Synagoge eingeladen.

Marburg. Unter sensiblem Einsatz von einer Troubadourharfe aus Jerusalem und einer Gitarre praesentierte die gebuertigen Neuseelaenderin eigens komponierte, aber auch traditionelle Lieder in Hebraeisch, Ladino, Englisch, Arabisch, Altprovenzalisch, Latein, Franzoesisch, Lallands (Sprache der schottischen Lowlands) und schottischem und irischen Gaelisch. Ihre klare Sopranstimme zeugte von feinfuehligen interpretatorischen Faehigkeiten: Mit ihren Stimm-Variationen brachte sie ihre Gaeste dazu, den fast in Vergessenheit geratenen Gesaengen alter Zeiten gespannt zu lauschen. Und gerade diese alten Gesaenge beinhalten das, was die Saengerin so fasziniert: die menschlichen Gefuehle, die sich ueber Jahrhunderte nicht veraendert haben.

Poetisch berichteten die Texte von tragischen Schicksalen, wie dem Tod einer jungen Jaedin bei einem Selbstmordattentat in Jerusalem oder von der Verbannung einer jungen Frau auf einen Turm auf Rhodos. Metaphern aus der Natur ziehen sich wie ein roter Faden durch die Lieder und beschrieben den Kreislauf der Natur, in dem Rosenknospen in Fuelle bluehen und traurig verwelken, Berge mal von Nebel umhuellt und mal von Fruehlingsblumen uebersaeht sind und in dem ein Seemann Heimweh nach dem Meer hat.

Ihr breites Repertoire an Balladen, Liebesliedern, lyrischen Liedern und anderen Genres der britischen Inseln und der sephardischen Tradition erarbeitete sie sich im Rahmen ihres Studiums der klassischen und mittelalterlichen Musik. Darueber hinaus ist sie Gruendungsmitglied der internationalen Folkmusik-Gesellschaft in Israel und des Harfenkreises von Jerusalem. — Juliane Martin

The Charm of a Voice

Like a Wildflower was the title of Israeli singer Jill Rogoff’s concert; and with a charming, tender voice — like that of a wildflower — she inspired her listeners in the University Church. The Jewish Community invited Rogoff again, during the Jewish Cultural Autumn this year, for a performance to benefit the new synagogue.

Marburg. With sensitive use of a troubadour harp from Jerusalem and a guitar, the New Zealand-born singer presented her own compositions, but also traditional songs in Hebrew, Ladino, English, Arabic, Old Provençal, Latin, French, Lallands (the language of the Scottish Lowlands) and Scots and Irish Gaelic. Her clear soprano voice highlights her sensitive interpreting abilities: with variations in her voice, she caused her guests to listen eagerly to the almost-forgotten songs of old times. These ancient songs in particular are full of something that deeply fascinates the singer: human feelings that haven’t changed through the centuries.

Her poetic texts tell of tragic fates, like the death of a Jewish girl killed in a suicide attack in Jerusalem, or of the banishment of a young woman to a tower on Rhodes. Metaphors from nature lead through the songs like a thread, describing the natural cycle, where rosebuds bloom in plenty and sadly fade, mountains are sometimes covered in mist and sometimes dotted with spring flowers,and where a sailor is homesick for the sea.

Rogoff has developed her broad repertoire of ballads, love songs, lyrical songs and other genres of the British Isles and the Sephardic tradition within the scope of her studies of classical and medieval music. Furthermore she is a founder member of both the national association for folk music in Israel and the Harp Circle in Jerusalem.

Celtic knot

Suedkurier, 5. Oktober, 2004
Botschaften in alten Sprachen

Ausszligergewoehnliches Konzert mit Jill Rogoff — Mittelalter Balladen bis Eigenkompositionen

Zu einem auszligergewoehnlichen Konzert in der Lorenzkirche konnte Kantor Helmut Franke am Sonntag rund 100 Besucher begruesszligen. Die gebuertige Neuseelaenderin Jill Rogoff, die seit 1979 in Jerusalem lebt, bot ihrem Publikum einen Einblick in ihre Wandlungsfaehigkeit als Saengerin. Vor allem die Begabung der Kuenstlerin, Texte in Sprachen wiederzugeben, die ueberwiegend einer laengst vergangenen Zeit angehoeren, zeigt Wirkung auf das Publikum.

Geradezu faszinierend war der a-capella-Gesang, bei dem die Breite des Stimmumfangs voll zur Geltung kam. Geradezu mystisch wirkten die leisen Toene, kaum vernehmbar, doch von einer Reinheit durchdrungen, die die hohe Professionalitaet der Kuenstlerin unterstrich. Zur Begleitung setzte Jill Rogoff Gitarre, keltische Harfe und zart klingende Schellenglocken ein. Es spielte keine Rolle, welches der Instrumente eingesetzt wurde — die Kuenstlerin ueberzeugte immer wieder von Neuem mit akzentuierten Rhythmen, mit denen ihr Gesang im Tonumfang und Lautstaerke einherging. So verstand es Jill Rogoff, ihren Liedvortraegen eine theatralische Spannung zu verleihen. In Racheli, einer Eigenkomposition, beschreib sie den Tod einer Freundin ihrer Tochter, die mit 17 Jahren bei einem Selbstmordattentat einer 16-Jaehrigen ihr Leben verlor. Unschwer zu erkennen waren dabei Gefuehlsregungen bei Jill Rogoff bei der Beschreibung des Lebens der Getoeteten. Auch das Publikum lebte dieses unglueckselige Zeitzeugnis andaechtig mit.

Diese Boetschaft erreichte das Publikum, genauso wie die Gesaenge der Troubadoure aus dem 12 Jahnhundert in alt-provenzalischer Sprache. So lliegt auch eine der Staerken bei Jill Rogoffin ihren Gabe, in ueber 20 Sprachen ihre Lieder auszudruecken. Es speilt keine Rolle, ob sie in Walisisch, irischem Gaelisch, Jiddisch, Hebraeisch, in schottischen Gaelisch, in Ladin, Englisch oder der schottischen Sprache lallands singt. Ihre Lieder erstreckten sich ueber mittelalterliche Balladen, ueber 1000 Jahre alte heidnische Liedern bis hin zu Liedern von Frieden und Harmonie unter den Menschen und zwischendurch vom Heiraten. — Werner Mueller

Messages in Old Languages

An extraordinary concert with Jill Rogoff — from medieval ballads to her own compositions

Kantor Helmut Franke welcomed some 100 guests to an exceptional concert in the Lorenzkirche on Sunday. Native-born New Zealander Jill Rogoff, who has lived in Jerusalem since 1979, offered her audience an insight into her ability as a singer to transform. Most especially, the artiste’s ability to render texts in languages from the long distant past made an impact on the audience.

Especially fascinating was the a cappella singing, which demonstrated the full breadth of her vocal range. The soft notes were nearly mystical, scarcely audible, but full of purity, which attested to the artist’s great skill. For accompaniment, Jill Rogoff used guitar, Celtic harp and delicately ringing finger-cymbals. No matter which instrument was used, the artist was constantly compelling with fresh, syncopated rhythms, suiting the range and volume of her singing. Jill Rogoff is so comprehensible, she lends her recital a theatrical tension. In Racheli, one of her own compositions, she has written about the death, at age 17, of a friend of her daughter’s, killed by a 16-year-old suicide bomber. It is easy to recognise the emotional impulse that would have led Jill Rogoff to describe the life of the victim. The audience also became a witness to these unfortunate contemporary events.

This message got through to the audience, as did the trobador song from the twelfth century in Old Provençal. One of Jill Rogoff’s strength lies in her gift to express her songs in over 20 languages. It doesn’t matter whether she sings in Welsh, Irish Gaelic, Yiddish, Hebrew, Scots Gaelic, Ladino, English or the Scots dialect of Lallands. Her songs span medieval ballads, pagan songs over 1,000 years old, songs of peace and harmony, and songs about marriage in-between. — Werner Mueller

Celtic knot

Der Schwarzwaelder Bote, 5. Oktober, 2004
Frau mit musikalischem Charisma

In der Stimme von Jill Rogoff schwingen ferne Sprachen mit

St. Georgen. “A world in one voice” — das ist Jill Rogoff. Bei ihrem Auftritt in der Lorenzkirche bewies sie musikalisches Charisma. In ihrer Stimme schwingen ferne Sprachen, Laender und Jahrhunderte mit. Da begegnen sich Orient und Okzident, verschmelzen alte juedische und englische Dialekte. Da wird ein Kulturkreis eroeffnet, der dem Zuhoerer bislang verborgen war.

Was sie auszeichnet ist die bestechende Schlichtheit, die klare musikalische Aussage, die den Zuhoerer anspricht. Texte werden durch ihre Moderation und den Programmzettel deutlich. Das Herz aber wird durch die empfindsame Vermittlung von Instrumenten und Stimme erreicht.

Der Mezzo-Sopran ist mit geradezu vornehmer Eleganz ausgestattet. Der Klang der Stimme schwebt nuancenreich in die Halle der Kirche. Ueberhaupt ist die ganze Erscheinung der Kuenstlerin ein Erlebnis geradezu exotischer Natur. Mit Grandezza kann sie im Alt-Provenzalisch, das spanische Anklaenge hat, die Zeit der Troubadoure mit Reis Glorios lebendig werden lassen oder den Traum von Renaissance in The Three Ravens herueber wehen lassen. Ihr musikalischer Ursprung liegt in den juedischen Sprachen der Sepharden und Ashkenasim. Und auch der Slang der Stedtl, das Jiddisch, das in den Ghettos des Mittelalters entstand mit deutschen, slawischen oder anderen Einfluessen, beherrscht sie ueberzeugend. Sie legt Seele in die Lieder, wie Schlof, mayn Feygele oder in ihre Eigenkomposition Aa My Life. Ihr Racheli transportiert aktuelle Brutalitaet und den stillen Versuch der Versoehnung unter kontrahierenden Voelkern. Ein moderner Song, der unter die Haut geht.

Beeindruckend auch die Vortraege aus dem keltischen, irlaendischen, schottischen und englischen Sprachraum,wobei es schwer wird, einen Vorrang einzuraeumen. Nicht zu vergessen die eigene Instrumentalbegleitung mit 22-saitiger Schoßharfe, Gitarre und Mini-Tschinellen. Alles macht Jill Rogoff mit Ueberzeugung und innerem Ernst. — Siegfried Kouba

A woman with musical charisma

In Jill Rogoff’s voice, you hear the echoes of distant languages

St. Georgen. “A world in one voice” — that is Jill Rogoff. In her appearance in the Lorenzkirche she demonstrated musical charisma. In her voice, you hear the echoes of distant languages, lands and centuries.

There Orient and Occident mix, in a melding of old Jewish and English dialects. There a circle of cultures opens, which was hitherto inaccessible to her listeners.

What is distinctive is the engaging simplicity, the clear musical statement, which she delivers to her audience. She explains the texts both verbally and in the clear program notes. However, the heart is reached through the sensitive mediation of voice and instrument.

The mezzo-soprano was turned out with ladylike elegance. The nuances of her voice hovered in the church hall. Above all, the artist’s entire appearance was rather exotic. In Old Provençal (with its echoes of Spanish), she stylishly brought back to life the time of the trobadors in Reis Glorios, or rendered the dream of the Renaissance in The Three Ravens. Her musical origins lie in the languages of the Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews. She also shows mastery in Yiddish, the tongue of the Stedtl, which in the medieval ghettos mixed German, Slavic and other influences. Her spirit relaxes in the song Schlof, Mayn Feygele or in her own composition Aa My Life. Her song Racheli depicts real brutality and her quiet attempt at reconciliation between people in conflict. A modern song which gets under your skin.

Also impressive was her delivery of material from the Celtic, Irish, Scots and English language area, a difficult accomplishment, and a priority for her. Nor should one forget her original instrumental accompaniment on a 22-string lap harp, guitar and little cymbals. Jill Rogoff does all this with compelling, heartfelt sincerity. — Siegfried Kouba

Celtic knot

Marburger Neue Zeitung, 13. Mai, 2003
Traditionelle Musik am Leben gehalten

Marburg. Unter dem Motto Nimm mich unter deine Schwingen befluegelte die gebuertige Neuseelaenderin Jill Rogoff am Samstag Abend in der Marburger Universitaetskirche ihre Zuhoerer mit Liedern aus Israel und aller Welt. An dem zugunsten des neuen Kulturzentrums der Juedischen Gemeinde veranstalteten Abend praesentierte sie eigene und traditionelle Kompositionen in Hebraeisch, Ladino, Jiddisch, Englisch, Walisisch, Gaelisch, Alt-Franzoesisch und in einem kurdischen Dialekt.

Ihre klare Sopranstimme bestach durch bezaubernde Unaufdringlichkeit und zeugte von Jill Rogoffs aeusszligerst sensiblen interpretatorischen Faehigkeiten: Mit weichem Vibrato und gekonnt eingesetzten Stimm-Variationen und Verzierungen brachte sie ihre Gaeste dazu, den fast in Vergessenheit geratenen geheimnisvollen Gesaengen alter Zeiten gespannt zu lauschen.

Dabei hielt sie freundlichen Augenkontakt, als singe sie fuer jeden Einzelnen persoenlich. Gefuehlvoll wechselte sie je nach Herkunft der Lieder das Instrument und unterstrich ihren Gesang mit einer Troubadourharfe aus Jerusalem oder der Gitarre.

Ebenso beruehrend waren die mal gewitzt und spitz, mal mythisch und poetisch formulierten Texte, die von tragischen Lebensschicksalen, Trauer, den Sirenen, Frieden, verflossener und romantisch gelebter Liebe berichteten: ‘Ich habe Mandelbaeume gepflanzt, zu Ehren deiner gruenen Augen; gestatte mir, den Hof zu machen, Lady, oder ich werde sterben’ verkuendete da beispielsweise ein junger Mann auf Ladino.

Das breite Repertoire an Balladen, lyrischen Liedern und anderen Genres des Balkan, der britischen Inseln, der keltischen und sephardischen Tradition erarbeitete sie sich im Rahmen ihrer Studien der klassischen und der mittelalterlichen Musik mit Forschern von internationaler Bedeutung. Darueber hinaus ist sie Gruendungsmitglied der internationalen Folkmusik-Gesellschaft in Israel und des Harfenkreises von Jerusalem, wo sie heute auch lebt.

Dort trat sie bereits bei einigen der wichtigsten Folk-Festivals und im Radio auf, erhielt nationale Auszeichnungen und unternahm im vergangenen Jahr zwei erfolgreiche Tourneen durch die USA. Rogoff veroeffentlichte bereits einige CDs wie The Celtic Cradle, Across the Narrow Seas und Dí Ke No Es Tadre. Zur Zeit stellt sie ihr neues Soloalbum The King’s Well fertig, plant das Album The Voice of the Wanderer und fuehrt ihre Erforschungen traditioneller, paraliturgischer juedischer Musik in Italien fort, um sie fuer die Nachwelt lebendig zu halten. Diese Lebendigkeit liesszlig sich am Samstag Abend erspueren und faszinierte die Herzen der Zuhoerer. — Juliane Martin

Traditional Music Kept Alive

Marburg. Under the theme Take Me Under Your Wings; New Zealand-born Jill Rogoff delighted her listeners with songs from Israel and all over the world on Saturday evening in the Marburg University Church. At this evening for the benefit of the Interpretive Center of the Jewish community, she presented her own and traditional compositions in Hebrew, Ladino, Yiddish, English, Welsh, Gaelic, Old French and a Kurdish dialect.

Her clear soprano voice persuaded with its charming unobstrusiveness and is evidence of her extremely sensitive interpretative abilities: with soft vibrato and skilfully used variations and enrichments of voice, she enticed her guests to listen curiously to the almost forgotten, mysterious chants of old times.

She maintained friendly eye-contact with the audience, as if she were singing for everyone personally. Sensitively she changed the instrument according to the origin of the songs, underlining her singing with guitar or a lap harp from Jerusalem.

Equally touching were the — sometimes shrewd and pointed, sometimes mythically and poetically worded — texts, which told of tragic fates, mourning, Sirens, peace, or romantic love both past and present: “I planted almond trees for the honour of your green eyes; allow me to court you, Lady, or I’ll die” a young man declares, for example, in Ladino.

The broad repertoire of ballads, lyrical songs and other genres come from the Balkans, the British Isles, and the Celtic and Sephardic traditions which she has acquired through of her study of classical and medieval music with musicians of international repute. Furthermore, she is a founder member of the national folk music association in Israel (IFS) and of the Harp Circle of Jerusalem, where she lives today.

There she has already performed in some of the most important folk festivals and on the radio, received American awards and undertook, last year, two successful tours through the USA. Rogoff has released such albums as The Celtic Cradle, Across the Narrow Seas and Dí Ke No Es Tadre. Currently she is completing her new solo album The King’s Well, planning another — The Voice of the Wanderer — and continuing her research of traditional para-liturgical Jewish music in Italy, to keep it alive for posterity. This vitality was sensed on this Saturday night, and fascinated the hearts of the listeners. [courtesy of MB]

Celtic knot

Jill’s concert tours in Australia and New Zealand (November — December 2004), and the USA (March — April 2005)

“She is a superb musician.”

“Jill is both a superb artist and a scholar. Her voice has that healing touch.”

“Jill was wonderful — I think she is even better than in the past, if that is possible!”

“The concert was terrific. Really wonderful. Jill was at her usual best! People loved her, and when I made calls to tell people that she was coming back they were all excited.”

“The crowd was… very appreciative of Jill’s performance. She was superb. I am continually amazed at the range of song types and languages she has mastered.”

Celtic knot

Jill’s concert tour in the USA, February 2004

“What a great musician… what a voice!”

“The audience was certainly enthusiastic. A tribute to her voice, explanations of context and ability to communicate emotion. After all, pieces in unfamiliar language are not slam dunk accessible.”

“Jill’s voice is so soothing and comforting, and her songs were moving. I particularly was so pleased she presented us with a new song that she had not yet sung in concert.”

Celtic knot

Jill’s concert tour in Europe, May 2003

“Jill gave us a wonderful concert in our little village chapel. She is doing good things.”

“Another fantastic concert at the synagogue last night in Décín. Her concert as a gift to our village was extremely kind and very much appreciated by a full church, as was last night’s. The atmosphere was terrific and wonderfully warm.”

“Everybody had a lovely evening listening to high-quality music.”

“Jill Rogoff gave pleasure and joy with her wonderful songs.”

“Her musical talent is beyond comparison. The concert enchanted the audience. If we were not to connect the words “Come again” with her sad song, then this would be just what we would say. We are really indebted to Jill.”

“We thank you very much for the wonderful concert in Marburg. Many people have spoken to me about it enthusiastically. Can you use your life in a better way than to make others as happy as possible? Come again, Jill, and please give many concerts.”

“A fine, impressive concert.” — Helmut Franke

Celtic knot

Jill’s concert tour in the USA, October-November 2002

[from poet Anne Shivas:] “I am still getting wonderful feedback from people about both the concerts and the Burns evening. People have said again and again how they are still basking in the glow of our Friday night concert and how much hearing your songs — especially the one about Racheli — moved them.”

“The wonder of both Friday and Sunday evenings brought me home to my center. The setting, the collections of folks, the joy of the music & voice, the depth of the poetry… the wholeness, the richness of it all. A delight. The music and the verse will sustain me through the winter. I am grateful beyond words and song.”

“It’s difficult to find words to describe her performances — it’s as if every cell of her body exudes music in the most gentle, charismatic manner.”

“Jill was wonderful last night. Everything about the concert was great. Her songs were beautiful, her singing and guitar playing just great. The audience really enjoyed her.”

“Jill is wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! Her school visits yesterday went extremely well. The children loved her!”

“Jill’s concert in Chambersburg was marvelous. (Are we surprised? Of course not, but delighted to hear her once again!).”

“We had a wonderful time with Jill in concert last night.”

“An outstanding evening. It was without doubt the best concert I have ever attended! Everyone had a wonderful time.”

“The religious school students were treated to a concert at temple. It was a wonderful concert and the students had an opportunity to experience music that they would not ordinarily hear.”

“Needless to say, Jill’s concerts were great successes!”
Celtic knot

Shining Star, Hear My Call!
Tradition and Ritual in the British Isles

Yad HaShmona, 26 July, 2002
[Folk Notes(Israel) October 2002]

“It takes a very special talent to walk into a minimalist wooden structure in the July midday sun, to perform unplugged largely in a language no-one of the 200 strong audience will understand, and still command attention such that you could hear a pin drop (if the air conditioner happened not to be blowing just then). It takes a special person who can be in full feeling of a Scots Gaelic mourning song just as some fool’s cell phone begins to ring relentlessly and to keep going without skipping a beat. In fact Jill Rogoff was that very special person during her recent performance at Yad HaShmona to a sold-out house.

“It was a lovingly selected series of nineteen mainly British Isles songs including a Sephardic rendition of Adon Olam written in London that was warmly received. While her never-forced and flowing voice is her forte, her exquisite lap harp has become her constant companion. Sharing at least nine of the songs with her, this harp is a fine complement to the music, even if it sometimes inhibits Jill’s full body language often expressed on guitar or a cappella. One song unexpectedly had a steel string guitar accompaniment that provided an unusual, refreshing sound. The arrangements were well thought out and enhanced by her ringing finger cymbals as distant steeple bells in The 3 Mary’s (Gol na dTrí Muire), and gentle drumming during Beinn a Cheathaich imitating the rhythmic work depicted in the song. Maintaining her intimate relation to her audience, she let them solo on the fol la la’s of an Irish Gaelic spinning song. All in all it was a fine hour far from the maddening world at large.” — Judi Ganchrow

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Jill’s concert tour in the USA, February 200
Winter Song

“Jill’s concert was warmly received and appreciated by all who attended. Needless to say, her voice is like an angel and her wonderful stage presence drew the audience into her beautiful world. I would have to say that she received a RAVE review by all who had the pleasure to see and hear her.”

“Jill was fantastic! Her singing was clear like a running brook, and her presence was just the right blend of dignified, friendly and fun.”

“The concert was great. Everyone we spoke with said how much they enjoyed it, how beautiful her voice is.”

“Just got back from hearing Jill’s concert. It was extremely enjoyable. What a personality, what a talent, what a voice.”

“We attended Jill’s concert last night here in the Twin Cities and it was WONDERFUL! Jill did a wonderful job in her singing and playing. We really enjoyed being there, both to hear her and also to see her again.”

“A truly inspired evening. We were glad to have an opportunity to hear her sing live, she has a beautiful voice and her songs, even the sad ones, warmed up the room.”

“The concert on Sunday was fantastic! Jill did a magnificent job. Everyone was really impressed with her ability.”

“We loved having her here! All of us were blessed by her concert.”

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Roses & Briars:
Images of Women in Medieval and Traditional Song

[Folk Notes(Israel) February 2002]

For the second year in a row, in December, our living room was the backdrop for a house concert by Jill Rogoff. Her new program was called Roses and Briars: The Image of Women in Medieval and Traditional Song. With each song, Jill demonstrated her ever-expanding repertoire, talent, love and respect for both her audience and her art.

I never knew a musician or story-teller who could make the chilling sound charming the way Jill does. This rare skill came out in her guitar-accompanied rendition of a traditional Irish song about a woman who tries to murder her husband. Chilling too in its universality was the grief of women who had lost their men folk in war and yet continue to honor their traditions, in the contemporary English Dancing at Whitsun. Jill’s own songwriting prowess shone forth in the song she had recently composed, Come Again, Love, about a young widow waiting the return of her fisherman-husband who has been lost at sea, a work she told us was inspired by the story of a personal friend.

A major part of Jill’s success with her audience is the delightful way she tells the story behind each and every song, which permitted us to enjoy each to the fullest. She also tuned us in to some of the secrets of her beautiful lap-harp, my personal favorite among her instruments. Her gentle sense of humor relaxed the room, and her ‘surprise box’ full of percussion instruments, from shells to bells, which she encouraged people to pick out and play along, had everyone feeling the fun.

Has anyone described Jill lately as ‘a singer of songs of the British Isles’? One who does so has not kept up with her ever-expanding repertoire, in which medieval songs and Ladino now figure prominently. La Mala Suegra or, as Jill described the subject of the song, ‘the mother-in-law from hell’, was an absolutely therapeutic experience for some people in the room who thought they had mothers-in-law to complain about! Jill also sang in Old Provençal, so beautifully rendered (and elucidated beforehand) that I could conjure up the very image of that frolicsome medieval queen who was the subject of the song, seeking to flirt and dance with the young men of her court. Rosa das Rosas, a 14th-century cantiga Jill sang in Galicio-Portuguese (with an instrumental prelude on the recorder) had us in awe of her musical as well as her linguistic talents. (Where does one find a Galicio-Portuguese tutor, after all?)

None of us had ever heard of a sruti box, which turned out to be a Pakistani-style hurdy-gurdy that emits only sharps. This may not sound very soothing, but Jill explained all about it before taking us back with it to 13th-century France and Bele Doette, a woman who establishes a convent after her lover dies.

I have had the pleasure of listening to Jill’s exquisite and compelling voice for some fifteen years, during which she has honed and developed that voice to heights that are no exaggeration to describe as celestial. We are all of us fortunate to have this rose in our little garden, where sometimes the briars seem all too many. — Miriam Feinberg Vamosh

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Escape to the Northern Isles:
Caledonia: Poems and folk songs of Scotland

Anne Shivas, Miriam S. & Jill Rogoff
[Pargod, Jerusalem, February 1995]

When the sun’s at its height and the country feels densely packed, many Israelis escape for a fortnight to Scotland. There we are soothed by the green, bathed in the mist, expand our souls a little in the vast expanses of land, and feel at home among the warm and good-natured Scots. What could be more fitting, then, than bringing a piece of Scotland to Israel, to relive some of those experiences? This is exactly what happened recently on an appropriately overcast February night at Jerusalem’s Pargod Theatre. In Caledonia, Scottish-born poets Miriam S. and Anne Shivas presented a broad array of modern Scottish poetry; while Jill Rogoff matched the varied moods of the poems with her mainly traditional songs.

The stage set comprised two tables with matching cloths flanking a rather elegant chair which was surrounded by guitars and a lovely 22-string lap harp. Poetry and music were alternated under rough subheadings of nature, rural life and urban life — Scotland in hard times and good — seen through the eyes of more than 25 different poets (including the two reading the poetry).

Scots languages sometimes can be difficult to catch for the uninitiated ear. All three performers, however, managed to deliver their messages at a speed and enunciation that was clearly understandable, while maintaining the special Scottish lilt that characterizes their everyday speech. Peppered with Gaelic words as some of the offerings were, care was taken to give adequate explanations when necessary. Miriam S. could thus deliver with gusto Tom Leonard’s from Unrelated Incidents and from Ghostie Men in a stout Glaswegian accent, drawing all the appropriate reactions from the audience. The images evoked by A.P. Campbell’s Your First Day at School and Tiananmen Square are glued up there in my memory now, right next to the pictures that came over the television. Anne Shivas presented her poetry with sensitivity and subtlety, carrying the audience to other times and places with poems like Douglas Dunn’s Loch Music and G.S. Fraser’s Lean Street.

Jill Rogoff warmed up the audience and set the pace with a strong rendition of Dougie MacLean’s Caledonia. Her songs ranged from the gentle Gaelic lullaby Gille Beag Ó — for which the audience provided the special bodhran rhythm — through the lyrical Ettrick, to the rousing Mary Mack and Buy Broom Besoms. Whether singing a cappella, or ably accompanying herself on harp and guitar, Jill’s voice rang out in crystal clarity and expressiveness.

This fine performance was presented in a professional and virtually flawless way, right down to the lighting and sound. I went along, not certain how such a specialized offering might be received. I left with an enthused full house of ‘Anglos’ and native Israelis alike. Highly recommended. — Judi Ganchrow

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The Road Around the Isles
[Folk Notes (Israel) March 1994]

On a wet, blustery cold — let’s face it — ENGLISH evening, an audience at the Zionist Confederation House was treated to an evening of Jill Rogoff. She performed beautifully for more than 1 1/2 hours, offering songs picked up on The Road Around the Isles.

Ably accompanied by Marc Gittelson on acoustic bass guitar, Jill treated us to songs from Scotland, including the Outer Hebrides, England, Eire, Northern Ireland and even a tune from the Isle of Man. There were some of us who were a bit surprised that we didn’t hear anything of the well-known Danish ballads of the Orkney Islands.

In the audience, apart from scores of appreciative fans, were two kids, one sister, one husband, as well as two proud parents visiting from New Zealand, all of whom were well-behaved throughout the evening.

Jill began her first set with two songs from Scotland, The Road to Dundee, well played in an open F tuning, followed by a lovely a cappella version of Far Over the Forth. She went on to deliver a sweet, but alas too-short version of an English tune, The Spotted Cow, followed by a gorgeous rendition of Bonny Woodgreen from Northern Ireland.

Jill’s repertoire ranged not only in place but time as well. For example, we heard an evocative rendition of Dancing at Whitsun. This lovely song is based on the decision of women left behind in the villages during World War I to dance the men’s part at the Whitsun festival. Of even earlier provenance were such pieces as Sound the Pibroch and The Lass of Glenshee.

The folk process was very evident in many of the evening’s offerings. For example, in the Scottish Verdant Braes of ‘Screen, we hear an echo of the words from an Irish ballad P Stands for Paddy (which I know from the French Canadian Celto-Quebecois band Barde).

Another particularly poignant example for those of us who emigrated to these fair shores would be the first line of The Banks of the Bann. The words, “When first to this country a stranger I came” are also to be found as the opening line of a completely different Canadian song of the same name and with the same initial lyrics.

Jill’s sense of humor was particularly in fine fettle, not only as evidenced by her choice of such funny pieces as The Salt (about a gentleman overcome by his carnivorous urges), but also by her clever yet unobtrusive patter between songs. Marc Gittelson’s particularly clever wit also shone through from time to time…

Speaking of Marc, his tasteful, above all MUSICAL bass accompaniment provided a kind of reassuring and soothing hammock of sound to Jill’s soprano voice and nylon-string guitar.

The antepenultimate piece (there were two curtain calls – this despite the fact that there were no curtains) was a C. Day-Lewis poem set to a lovely melody by Jill.

The first encore was Red Is the Rose, an Irish song set to the melody of the well-known Scottish tune Loch Lomond (or is it the other way around?). The audience sang along with at least a 16-part harmony. The final piece, appropriately enough as the hour was getting late, was a Gaelic lullaby Gille Beag Ó.

The evening was a great success, the only regret being that it didn’t last longer. — Marc Clarfield

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excerpt from review
[The Jerusalem Post, February 11, 1992]

Most of the British folk songs presented by Jill Rogoff were of the less well-known kind, with the perennial Scottish Loch Lomond as almost the only exception — and this characteristic constituted one of their main attractions.

A wide-spectrum selection of songs, ballads and lullabies from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, some lyrical and others naughty, piquant, comic, tragic or mock-tragic, ensured a refreshing amount of variety.

An English ballad on Queen Eleanor who on her deathbed made a confession of her secret intensive love life to two French priests, one of whom was in reality her king-husband in disguise; a seduction song and, for the sake of contrast in a more serious vein, a fishermen’s boat-blessing song, were some of the highlights of the colourful program.

With her bright-timbred voice and understatement of expression coupled with subtly placed tongue-in-cheek emphases on climaxes, New Zealand-born Jill Rogoff’s rendition reminded one of the style made popular by Jean Ritchie and Isla Cameron…her singing’s charm [is] natural and not switched on and off deliberately in the manner of many ‘non-ethnic’ professional folksingers. — Ury Eppstein

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Roses & Thorns
[Folk Notes (Israel) June 1990]

Folk music can make one laugh, clap and sing out loud, but it may be just as likely to mesmerize an audience with quiet, evocative song. This is just what happened last March 31, [with] Jill Rogoff’s new program of English, Scottish and Irish folk music entitled Roses and Thorns, at the Confederation House in Jerusalem.

The hall’s excellent acoustics made amplification unnecessary, adding a measure of intimacy to the 19th and 20th century songs and to the nimble hornpipes and jigs played by Shay [Tochner] on solo guitar as a special treat. The rest of the program included bawdy drinking songs, tales of naval prowess, and plaintive a cappella songs about (usually) unrequited love. Many of the songs were written in the previous century… Others, such as The Dove, a poignant song of peace familiar to Judy Collins devotees, were by contemporary writers.

The Confederation House is an ideal setting for a concert such as this. Jill’s sonorous soprano easily filled the hall; as she told me, the superb acoustics allowed her to sing dramatically, without strain, while the near-capacity audience could frequently not resist, and joined in for the chorus.

The program closed with an Irish song, a testimonial to the passing of time and to our fleeting relationships with one another. The refrain was particularly touching: “Here’s a health to the company and one to my lass./Let’s drink and be merry all out of one glass./Let’s drink and be merry, all grief to refrain/for we may or might never all meet here again.” — Judd Levingston

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excerpts from review
A Celtic Evening
Jill Rogoff & Sunita Staneslow
St Andrew’s Memorial Church, Jerusalem
January 8th, 1990

For a repeat performance, one might have expected to have seen a dwindling interest, and so it was all the more heartening to see so many music lovers fill St. Andrew’s Church for Jill and Sunita’s concert of Celtic music. Jill Rogoff’s lovely voice was very well suited to the hall, acquiring a fullness and richness of sound, suffusing the air with glorious melody. Never was the truth and sincerity of her delivery in doubt as she gave us the full force of her powerfully expressive interpretations. Her performance was a true pleasure.

Both performers displayed a refreshingly natural grace, making it obvious to all both their expertise and affection for the diverse repertoire. For most of us, it was a more-than-timely opportunity to expand our musical knowledge and become acquainted with this type of music: as such, the brief history introducing each song was most welcome. The songs were very well selected — a blend of romantic mood songs with delicately haunting melodies interspersed with comic ballads and rousing marches. Like a gourmet banquet, there was something to suit everyone’s palate. It was an evening few of us will forget. — Ruth Berman

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A Celtic Evening
Jill Rogoff & Sunita Staneslow
St Andrew’s Memorial Church, Jerusalem
[excerpts from review in [Folk Notes (Israel) February 1990]

It is not often that a folk music concert in Israel packs a hall and still leaves disappointed patrons outside. This was the happy fate of folk singer Jill Rogoff and harpist Sunita Staneslow who presented A Celtic Evening at Jerusalem’s Scottish Church on November 16th. (Moreover, they filled the house again with their repeat performance on January 8th.) The evening’s specific theme, Celtic music, had a broad appeal. The audience included the ‘folk music crowd’, harp enthusiasts, and even a group of native Gaelic-speaking nuns from a nearby convent.

The program included some delightful solos by Sunita on her clarsach (Scottish folk harp). She ran the gamut of styles and techniques in her playing and displayed sensitive musicianship throughout…

Jill, who initiated the whole idea of an entirely Celtic concert, had a great time singing some songs in Welsh, Irish Gaelic and Scots Gaelic though most were in English translation. She chose a musically varied group of songs in order to show the wide range of styles within the Celtic repertoire. The interpretations and arrangements of all the duets were entirely the fruit of her collaboration with Sunita. The most stunning was the mysterious The Gartan Mother’s Lullaby with Jill’s voice soaring and the clarsach shimmering in the background. Also most unusual was the old Scots song A Chraobh nan Ubhall, which was sung first as a slow duet, a eulogy, and then faster as a waulking song (in the rhythm of the Scottish cloth-stretchers).

Jill’s specialty of a cappella (unaccompanied) singing was well represented in the program. She was in fine voice and the wonderful acoustics of the Scottish Church enhanced particularly the moving moments of the Welsh lullaby and the haunting love song in Irish Gaelic Ta Mo Chleamhnas Deanta.

This was not only a musically beautiful evening but the performers had obviously done their homework as well. The charm and humour of their explanations between songs gave a deeper dimension to the program. The warm communication between the two musicians and their evident love of the material shone through the entire concert. — Mimi Cherniak

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To see letters from some of the hundreds of children for whom Jill has sung, click here.