Edward Zeltser, a local composer and musician, has released an album that celebrates the 70th anniversary of the state of Israel, an event coming in 2018.
Zeltser, who came to Atlanta as a refugee from Ukraine almost 30 years ago, composed all 10 works on the album, “In Pursuit of Dreams,” and recorded it with live and synthesized instruments played by Israeli and Ukrainian artists.
“On a grand scale, the vision for the CD is to commemorate the 70-year anniversary of the existence of the modern state of Israel, which will be in 2018,” Zeltser said, “by highlighting a few moments in the history of the Jewish people, from the times of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden to the present day.”
The album begins with “Blessed Rain,” a sweeping tune driven by piano and saxophone that celebrates the optimism of spring showers. Next up is “Once in Eden,” which details serenity in the Garden of Eden, followed by the expulsion into a turbulent world; it builds into the album’s title track, “In Pursuit of Dreams,” which represents the centuries-old dream of the Jewish people to return to their homeland.
The instrumental album continues with “Prayer” and “Far Away,” the yearning of the Jewish people for their homeland while in slavery. “Remembering” honors the memory of fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism and transitions into the hopeful “Spring in Galilee,” which highlights the beauty of the Galilee region in the spring.
“Spicy Hummus” is a cheerful salsa dance celebrating the culture of Jews scattered around the globe during the Diaspora.
The final two tracks on the album celebrate Israel’s two largest cities. “Midnight in Tel Aviv,” an upbeat, saxophone-centric, tropical tune honors Tel Aviv’s designation as the other city that never sleeps. “Jerusalem Rhapsody” evokes the might and beauty of the historic capital of Israel and its Jewish roots.
Every track on the album, even the compositions written in minor key, has been transposed to a major key or has a positive, strong, life-affirming ending.
“I hope that all of the songs on the album are life-affirming,” Zeltser said. “There’s not a sad feeling after you hear each song. Instead, you hear the optimism of the Jewish people and their belief that the future will be bright.”
Classically trained in clarinet and piano, Zeltser was born and raised in Chernivtsi, Ukraine, and played saxophone and clarinet in big bands and small orchestras growing up. He moved to Atlanta with his family in 1988. He is also an accomplished professional photographer.