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126. Jewish Music Week May 22-29

Cantor Simon Spiro, chair of the Cantors Convention. Image courtesy Jewish Music Week

If you are interested in music, I hope you will consider yourself lucky if you are free and in town the week of May 22-29.

Some interesting music will be coming here then and I’m going to miss it, alas. It’s “Jewish Music Week – from Bible to Broadway”. What an intriguing title! I’d love to get your reaction.

The title could be controversial but that’s also the attraction. Of course, I have no problem considering the music of Jewish cantors as traditional Jewish music. Cantors are the people who lead Jewish prayer usually with song.

But Jewish Music Week includes composers Gershwin, Bernstein, and Kern, all of whom I love, and all of whom happen to be Jewish! Are there elements of traditional Jewish music in “American in Paris,” “West Side Story,” and “Porgy and Bess”? Just because a composer is Jewish, does it follow that his or her music is Jewish?

I’d like to learn more about the music of these Broadway giants in the Jewish context. During the week, pianist Ron Davis will “explore aspects of the Jewish presence in jazz, from a historical and personal perspective. “  I’d love to hear what Charles Heller has to say. He’s the author of the book What To Listen For In Jewish Music.

It’s also great that many of the lectures and much of the music, with its live choirs and singers, will be available to everyone free of charge. A poignant note will be the dedication of  an engraving on the Memorial Wall to Cantors who perished during the Holocaust. Cantors from all over the world will join local choirs in singing the Memorial Prayer on that occasion.

We are fortunate that many cantors will be meeting in our city and sharing their wealth of musical heritage with us.

For a detailed schedule with dates, venues and prices, see: http://www.jewishmusicweek.com/schedule

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