Renowned composer Cantor Meir Finkelstein will join Cantor Scott Buckner and the Adath Jeshurun choir for an evening of music on Oct. 28
By ERIN ELLIOTT BRYAN / Community News Editor
Cantor Scott Buckner first introduced Adath Jeshurun Congregation to Cantor Meir Finkelstein’s composition of “L’Dor Vador (From Generation to Generation)” on the High Holidays about 15 years ago. Since then, Buckner has included more and more of Finkelstein’s music into Adath’s services.
“The congregation has just fallen in love with his music,” Buckner told the AJW. “He really is one of the foremost synagogue composers alive today.”
Finkelstein, cantor at Shaary Zedek in Southfield, Mich., will join fellow tenor Buckner, as well as Adath Jeshurun’s choir, for “Cantors in Concert: From Broadway to Bimah,” which will take place on Oct. 28 at the synagogue. The evening of music will feature solos and duets of different styles of Jewish and non-Jewish music — everything from lyrical pieces to Israeli music to Broadway show tunes.
The concert is presented by TAMID (theater, arts, music, Israel and dance), Adath’s cultural committee.
The event will also be the world premiere of Finkelstein’s second commission for the Minnetonka shul: “Hashkiveinu,” which is a prayer for peace recited during the evening service.
“He’s got a gift for melody that catches the American ear,” Buckner said. “In our Ashkenazi, Eastern European, ancestry, a lot of the cantorial music came over from Europe. Certain composers brought a new style that is almost our own. His music, his compositions really grab our ear and engage us.”
Finkelstein was born in Israel, but the family immigrated to England in 1955 when his father, the late Cantor Zvi Finkelstein, accepted a position there. Along with his brother Aryeh, who is also a cantor, Finkelstein grew up singing in the synagogue. The brothers and their father also recorded two albums of original liturgical music, which were released in the United States.
“After my Bar Mitzva, my father taught me how to be a cantor,” Finkelstein told the AJW. “It was very natural for me because I had been singing at synagogues since I was eight or nine. It wasn’t unusual.”
At the age of 14, Finkelstein became the youngest cantor in Europe when he accepted a position at a small synagogue in Glasgow, Scotland. At 18, he became cantor at Golders Green Synagogue in London and attended the Royal College of Music, graduating with top honors in singing, piano and composition.
He came to the United States at 23, and became cantor at Beth Hillel Congregation in Wilmette, Ill. After five years, he moved to Los Angeles, where he became cantor at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, a position he held for 18 years.
In Los Angeles, Finkelstein began composing and arranging music for television and movies. He also collaborated with Steven Spielberg to compose music for the Visual History Foundation’s award-winning documentaryÂ Survivors of the Holocaust, for which he was nominated for a Cable Ace Award.
“A lot of the compositions I was doing for the synagogue were in some sense cinematic because I was viewing them differently than a typical Jewish composer who is setting a prayer,” Finkelstein said. “I suppose I was viewing them more dramatically, just like I was scoring a movie.”
In 1995, Finkelstein joined Alberto Mizrahi and David Propis to form The Three Cantors. The group has played to sold-out audiences for the past 15 years and more dates are scheduled in 2011. Finkelstein has also released 10 solo albums.
Many of Finkelstein’s friends and colleagues, including Buckner, regularly commission Finkelstein to compose original pieces.
“I find them very exciting because they’re all challenging in different ways,” Finkelstein said of the commissions. “Some cantors don’t have accompaniment, so I have to write special pieces only for voices. Some cantors have strictly male voice choirs, which present different kinds of challenges. And other cantors, like Cantor Buckner, want to commission a piece that uses instruments and a mixed choir.”
During last year’s High Holidays, Buckner performed the world premiere of Adath’s first commission from Finkelstein, “Halleluyah,” which is based on Psalm 150 and appears in the Rosh Hashana liturgy.
“The idea of bringing a new piece of Jewish music for the liturgy for the synagogue into the world, and Adath being able to do that, was a powerful, exciting idea,” Buckner said. “It’s so powerful that — and this has never happened to me in the 26 years I’ve been a cantor — at the end of that ‘Halleluyah’ there was a huge round of applause.”
Buckner said the Oct. 28 concert will appeal to all ages and musical tastes.
“I’m just anticipating our voices are going to really sound good together and it will be a lot of fun,” he said. “The level of music and singing that the audience is going to hear that evening will probably go beyond their expectations.”
“Cantors in Concert: From Broadway to Bimah” will take place 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28 at Adath Jeshurun Congregation, 10500 Hillside Ln. W., Minnetonka. A dessert reception will follow the concert.
Tickets are $10 for students and seniors; $18 for general seating; $36 for preferred seating; and $54 for patron seating. To order, mail a check or credit card information (a 2.5 percent fee will be added for credit card orders) to the synagogue. All tickets will be at will call.
For information, call the synagogue at 952-545-2424 or visit: www.adathjeshurun.org.
(American Jewish World, 10.1.10)
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