Judith Berkson - Oylam | ECM 2121



Judith Berkson (born 1977) is a soprano, pianist and composer living in Brooklyn, New York. She studied voice at New England Conservatory with Lucy Shelton, theory and composition with Joe Maneri, and piano with Judith Godfrey and Viola Haas.

She has played at the Bruckner Tage in Austria, the American Festival of Microtonal Music, the Jewish Kultur Festival in Krakow and has premiered works by Gérard Pape, Ken Thomson, Joe Maneri, Matthew Welch, Ohad Talmor, Steve Coleman, Hans Breder, Carlos Cuellar, and Julia Werntz. She has sung with the Delphian Jazz Orchestra, Wet Ink New Music Collective, The Four Bags, ASM New Music Ensemble and Theodore Bikel and composed and arranged music for the Kronos Quartet.

Judith is a cantor and teaches liturgical music at Old Westbury Hebrew Congregation in New York, and cantorial music and Hebrew liturgy counts amongst her earliest inspirations.

From the age of five she studied classical piano. As a teenager she was drawn to the experimental composers, “the avant-gardists and the people working with extended technique. I liked the challenge of that“ but also worked at singing art songs from Schubert to Schoenberg.

Singing and playing in jazz and experimental bands through the late 1990s, she curtailed much of this activity in the early 21st century to concentrate primarily on solo performance, looking anew at the possibilities for voice with keyboard accompaniment, and has come up with an approach entirely her own, and one which can encompass the full range of her musical interests.

Her debut album “Lu-Lu” was released by Peacock Records in 2008 and praised by publications including the New York Times. “Oylam” is her first for ECM.


In Autumn 2010 Berkson will be touring Europe with two ensembles. In the beginning of November she is on the road performing Ohad Talmor's chamber piece, "Mass Transformation" based on Bruckner's 3rd Mass with a mixed Austrian/American group. At the end of November she will be in Belgium and Holland playing with Indian percussionist Deep Singh and trumpeter Frank London. Detailed dates to follow.