Posts tagged: Jewish Religious & Holiday Music

Cantor Jacob Barkin: JSA featured performer

By , August 20, 2012 11:56 am

Jacob Barkin became an internationally acclaimed cantor and operatic performer during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. He performed with the Pittsburgh and New York Symphony Orchestras and was offered a contract by the Metropolitan Opera (which he declined). Early in his career he became a White House favorite of presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. While officiating at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington DC (1952 – 1975) he was invited to perform at the White House by presidents Dwight Eisenhower and  Richard Nixon.

A highlight of his career was being asked to  step into Richard Tucker’s role as Cantor for High Holiday services at the famous Concord Hotel in upstate New York (Catskills). He officiated at Holy Blossom Congregation in Toronto, until his retirement in 1995.

A strong supporter of Israeli statehood,  he was decorated by the Israeli government.

The JSA’s collection of recordings by Cantor Barkin is comprised of 10 albums, one of which was created at the JSA from previously unreleased recordings.

Click here to listen to any or all of these recordings.

L’Shana Tova: A good and sweet year

By , September 19, 2011 4:05 pm

New for the Holidays! This recently added album features music composed especially for the High Holy Days by Cantor Meir Finkelstein who also conducts the orchestra. It features the voices of Cantor Udi Spielman and his wife Varda.

Cantor Spielman and Cantor Finkelstein have partnered many times in the past with great success. Together they create a distinctive cantorial sound that is at once modern and traditional.

A Still, Small Voice Is Heard was recorded about a year ago with restricted distribution, mostly to members of the congregation of B’nai Torah in Boca Raton. The title of the album refers to the story of Elijah who did not hear the voice of God in the wind that whipped him, the earthquake that shook the mountain he stood on, or the fire which raged around him. But, in the calm after the fire Elijah heard a still, small voice and knew that God was with him.

Click here to listen to all of Cantor Spielman’s recordings.

Serota collection yields long-forgotten treasures

By , August 25, 2011 12:21 pm

It was the “last box packed.” Now it was the last box to be unpacked. After going through 156 boxes of Cantorial, Yiddish and English-language recordings from the collection of Chicago record producer Barry Serota we stared at this box and knew that once it was opened our job of unpacking would be complete.

However, our work organizing, describing and investigating the music was just beginning!

Barry Serota, had devoted his life to collecting great Jewish music and producing high-quality recordings. Although we knew that this was a wonderful donation to the Judaica Sound Archives, we really couldn’t be sure what treasures we would find. As it turns out, we couldn’t be more pleased!

Of the 1,513 LPs that were unpacked we found at least 100 that were still in their original cellophane wrappers. There were also a few 45 rpm records, over seven hundred 78 rpm discs, 101 digital tapes, and 1,443 audio reel-to-reel tapes.

Benedict Stambler, founder of the Collector’s Guild recording company, had been Barry Serota’s mentor and friend. We were delighted to uncover several test pressings from the Collector’s Guild Archives Limited Edition series. There were numerous other test pressings as well, a few of them acetate.

Test pressings include: an acetate pressing of a synagogue service  radio broadcast led by Cantor Dale Lind made in 1941, a live concert by Cantor David Kousevitsky that was recorded in 1968, and a concert of folk songs by Rosenblatt.

The JSA has now been able to create a special collection of about 60 albums on the Musique Internationale label. This rare collection of recordings by a dedicated lover of Jewish music can now be enjoyed around the world on the JSA website.

The Judaica Sound Archives has greatly enhanced its already extensive collection of Judaic music with this acquisition and we are delighted to be able to share it with you. Recordings that cannot be played on the website due to copyrights will be made available on the JSA Scholar’s Research Station.

FAU Libraries accepts generous gift in memory of Barry Serota

By , July 21, 2011 3:01 pm

When Barry Serota’s life suddenly ended because of a heart attack in November 2009, the world of recorded Jewish music lost one of its most respected professionals.

Barry Serota, a practicing attorney and executive director of the Institute for Jewish Sound Recording, died suddenly November 16, 2009 on a plane flight between New York and Madrid on the way to Israel.

Serota, widely known for his deep knowledge of Jewish music, had produced more than 100 recordings of Jewish sacred and secular music. Serota’s output at the Institute, based in Chicago, included choral, instrumental, folk and art music. Serota was especially known a promoter of chazzanut. Starting in 1969, he issued many esoteric Jewish music recordings under the imprint of Musique Internationale.

Serota, an advisor to the Milken Foundation, worked on their large project of the Library of American Jewish Music, the recordings which were published under the Naxos label. He was also involved in the Foundation’s oral-history project, for which he interviewed many of the leading figures in Jewish music.

Serota earned degrees at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, and received a law degree from De Paul University of Chicago. He lectured widely, including numerous professional and academic organizations such as the Cantorial Council of America, HUC (Hebrew Union College), TACI (Tel Aviv Cantorial Institute), and the Museum of the Diaspora.

At the time of his death, Jeffrey P. Lieuwen wrote, “I hope the enormous collection he leaves behind will fall into good hands, so it will be preserved for generations to come.” I hope Mr. Lieuwen and others will be pleased to learn that Barry Serota’s mother, Mrs. Blanche Serota, has donated his entire personal collection to the Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries.

Carrying on a family tradition

By , May 31, 2011 10:50 am

Coming from a long line of distinguished cantors it probably should be no surprise that Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray has devoted her life to the cantorial arts. Her understanding of the special challenges for female cantors, along with a desire to encourage others, resulted in her organizing the Women Cantors’ Network in 1982. At that time there was a great need for mutual support as female cantors generally faced exclusion from the cantorial community. Although women cantors, today, are accepted into all liberal cantorial schools and organizations the WCN continues to offer encouragement and support for women who want to participate in cantorial music.

Today Cantor Katchko-Gray carries on her family’s tradition at Temple Shearith Israel in Ridgefield, CT, where she has been cantor since 1999. Incredibly multi-talented Cantor Katchko-Gray has a repertoire that ranges from traditional liturgical solemnity to light-hearted songs for children and comedy.

Cantor Katchko-Gray honors her family heritage by adding her voice to those of Cantor Theodore Katchko and Cantor Adolph Katchko on the album Three Generations of Cantorial Art.

The Judaica Sound Archives features five of Cantor Katchko-Gray’s albums. Please click here and enjoy them all.

Chassidic Music

By , March 25, 2011 10:20 am

Separated from other Ashkenazic Jews in 18th and 19th century Eastern Europe, the Chassids developed their own distinctive music traditions, which included chazzanuth, folk songs and nigunim.

Nigunim are unique musical expressions of Chassidic religious thought and grew out of the belief that the experience of exuberant joy was a religious duty.

Since it was felt that words interrupted the pure stream of emotion, most early nigunim were wordless. Instead they employed special syllables to carry the tune (like ‘bim bam’, or ‘yadi-da-di’). Often these syllables became distinctive signatures which allowed musicologists to specify the region that a particular nigun had come from.

The nigun has inspired secular Israeli music, klezmer and even Chassidic jazz. Please explore the world of Chassidic music with the Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries.

Click here to listen to this special JSA collection of Chassidic music.

Click here to browse JSA’s online collection of Chassidic music.

Click here to listen to this special JSA collection of Chassidic music.

A Life of Music: Cantor Louis Danto

By , February 3, 2011 12:42 pm

Rouhama Danto, long-time friend of the JSA, stopped by the Wimberly Library during a recent visit to South Florida. Mrs. Danto told me how pleased she is with the work that the Judaica Sound Archives is doing to preserve her husband’s legacy and how much it meant to her to be able to share his extraordinary and beautiful voice with those who were not fortunate enough to have heard him during his lifetime.

She reminded me that she had recently donated a two-disc DVD of many of her husband’s public appearances. “Is there any way you can put video on the website?” she asked.

The Judaica Sound Archives collects sound recordings exclusively, so we do not usually have access to videos or permission to use them.  During her visit, however, Mrs. Danto chose three excerpts from the DVD to share with you. We are grateful to Mrs. Danto and very pleased to be able to share these clips with you.

Prayer for Queen Elizabeth, Toronto (1984)

Mi Par Dudir Ancora, Moscow (1989)

Dos Yiddish Lid, Budapest (1989)

Click to browse the JSA collection of Cantor Louis Danto’s recordings.

Click if you are interested in obtaining the 2-disc DVD or to send a note to Mrs. Danto.

In memoriam: Mort Malavsky

By , December 6, 2010 12:13 pm

Mort Malavsky, one of the last surviving members of the Malavsky Family Choir, passed away Nov. 24, 2010. He is survived by his wife Rhoda of 50 years, children Andy, Jeffrey and Jodi, daughter-in-laws Ellen and Kelli, son-in-law Lonnie,  his sisters Ruthie  and Minnie, and his six grandchildren Samuel, Matthew, Jake, Max, Melanie and Eric.

You can enjoy the music of Cantor Seymour Malavsky and his Malavasky Family Choir by visiting the JSA website.

FAU’s Kultur Festival highlights the work of JSA

By , March 15, 2010 3:28 pm

Between March 6 and 11, 2010 the Boca Raton campus of FAU became a celebration of Jewish music and culture. It was the FAU Library’s second Kultur Festival. Events ran the gamut from klezmer concerts to cultural diversity forums. Two of these events highlighted the work of the Judaica Sound Archives.

The Man Who Spoke to God

Tues., March 9 : Dr. Jerry Glantz

The voice of the legendary Cantor Leib Glantz was one of the first to be heard on the JSA website. The importance of his compositions, the beauty of his voice and his unique ability to create an other-worldly spiritual experience for his listeners propelled him to prominence during the first half of the 20th century, also known as “The Golden Age of Hazzanut.”  We are exceptionally grateful to Dr. Jerry Glantz for allowing the JSA to showcase his fathers bountiful talents.

Dr. Glantz discussed his book, The Man Who Spoke to God,  a biographical loving tribute to his father, explained his father’s innovations in the field, and shared his father’s voice with the audience through recorded pieces. Especially dramatic was Cantor Glatntz’s rendition of Shema Yisrael. Dr. Glantz told the audience that because his father believed in improvisation the Shema was a new creation each time he sang it.

All of the recordings by this great cantor are available on the JSA website.

Yiddish Zingfest

Wed., March 10 : Phyllis Berk

There’s just something about Yiddishkeit that can fill you with a mixture of longing for days gone by, nostalgia, and concern about the future of Yiddish culture. When Jews immigrated to the USA from Eastern Europe, Yiddish was the language that they shared with each other. It was the language they spoke, read, wrote and sung. It was the language that expressed their struggles and their triumphs.

The JSA is committed to collecting recordings that express the Yiddish culture through music and humor. It is only through phonograph recordings that future generations will be able to hear for themselves what Yiddish sounded like in the early 1900s.

JSA Participating Performer, Phyllis Berk did an amazing job of bringing back the “old days” in this performance. Singing songs from her CD (Coming of Age)  like Shpilzhe Mir a Lidele, Unter Beymer, Grine Kuzine and Mein Shtetele Belz, she not only entertained her large audience, she led them down memory lane and roused them to sing along as well.

There are currently 167 Yiddish song albums on the JSA website that you can listen to at any time.

Submitted by Maxine Schackman, JSA Assistant Director

JSA Highlights: Cantor Moshe Koussevitzky

By , November 10, 2009 4:39 pm

Moshe koussevitzkyThe name of Cantor Moshe Koussevitzky can be placed alongside Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt, Cantor Gerson Sirota, and Cantor Zawel Kwartin — the most honored names from the Golden Age of Cantorial music. The JSA’s online selection of recordings by Cantor Moshe Koussevitzky contains 13 albums from the JSA’s Collectors Guild and Famous record label collections, a total of 100 separate song tracks.

Moshe Koussevitzky was born into a family of cantors and so his vocal gifts were not overlooked, even at an early age. Born in 1899 in Belarus, he was a teeneager when WW I began. The Koussevitzky family relocated to Russia where his cantorial studies continued. By 1925 he could be heard in the Great Synagogue of Vilna, Poland. And in 1928 Koussevitzky was awarded the position vacated by the renowned great Cantor Gerson Sirota at the Tlomacki Synagogue of Warsaw.

According to Benedict Stambler, founder of Collectors Guild records, it was in Warsaw that Koussevitzky’s “voice reached its full power and brilliance.” His popularity spread as he performed throughout Europe and Palestine in the 1930s.

Trapped in Poland during WWII Koussevitzky was rescued by members of the Polish underground and brought to Russia. There he was reunited with his family soon afterward. After the German retreat he became the principal tenor in the Tiflis National Opera Company in Georgia. The four Koussevitzky brothers were all exceptional cantors. Moshe, David, Jacob and Simcha reunited in London in 1946 to give a stirring farewell appearance at the Royal Albert Hall before an audience of thousands.

The JSA’s online collection of Koussevitzky recordings encompasses the full career of this great cantor, from his early recordings to his later works. Of special interest is his recording of Sheyiboneh Beys Hamikdosh which allows the cantor’s full range of talents to be heard.

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