Aug 10, 2015
Cantors Hit a Note in Manhattan

A group of Chabad chazzanim came together for a pre Rosh Hashanah concert at a synagogue in the Upper West Side. Watch them sing.

By Adam Bell,

A group of cantors from the Chabad-Lubavitch community is going on tour.

OK, it's not quite a cross-country trek, more like a cross-town one. To prepare for its Rosh Hashanah concert, chazzanim from the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., recently put on an educational program in Manhattan for cantors and vocal enthusiasts.

Billed as a "Chazzanus Master Series," the event was held at the West Side Institutional Synagogue on New York's Upper West Side, where the cantors teamed up with that synagogue's Cantor Zevi Muller.

David Babinet, director/vocal coach for the group, also helped organize the event, which was attended by about 60 people.

Babinet said the "Council of Chabad Cantors" was formed a decade ago by Levke Kaplan as an unofficial way to help young cantors in their education, to provide performance opportunities and even to help with job placement.

More recently, the group has been making public appearances. It held its first concert this spring in Crown Heights, which Babinet called "our introduction to the community."

With the July 29 event, Babinet said he hopes to encourage other cantors because "they need to be part of a community of cantors. In order to grow, you need to be part of a group."

Charlie Bernhaut, who attended the presentation, said "the cantors each displayed talent, energy and promise for the future. There has been much talk about the demise of chazzanus. What we may be witnessing is the beginning of a revolution."

Dr. Akiva Wulkan, a professor of radiology at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY, was also there and thought the concert was "spectacular."

"I heard a wonderful group of well-trained vocal musicthe group should be proud of its accomplishments," said Wulkan, who studies voice and performs as well. "I was privileged to have attended the meeting and hope to attend many more. The lecture was inspiring and the performances stellar."

Sharing Their Music

Here's what happened at the Manhattan synagogue.

The session began with Muller discussing ways to make services more energized and inspiring through prayer and song. The goal was to enhance the davening experience.

Muller, the nephew of well-known Cantor Binyamin Muller from Antwerp, Belgium, has served as the synagogue's cantor for more than 10 years now.

After Muller's discussion, cantors were then encouraged to share their music; Babinet likened it to an open forum or practice. Suggestions were shared privately in what was described as a casual atmosphere for people at all different levels.

The evening ended with a master class led by Babinet.

A classically trained singer, Babinet holds a master's degree in vocal performance from a Cincinnati conservatory. He worked in numerous opera programs and even performed in Los Angeles with the famed Spanish tenor Placido Domingo.

Babinet has said he decided to transition to cantorial music while performing in Israel when he heard a cantor in the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem.

At the forum, Babinet covered such areas as musical interpretation, diction and vocal technique with the cantors in his master class. Those watching could also get some instruction while observing the process.

Speaking before the class, Aryeh Hurwitz, a member of the council, said he was looking forward to learning about vocal techniques, hearing from experts and picking up performance tips. "It's also a good opportunity to meet other people and have new experiences," he noted.

And while it's good to have those experience any time of the year, it's especially helpful to have them in relative proximity to the High Holy Days, according to Hurwitz.

There's something else he looked forward to: "We're going from our local shuls in Brooklyn to other communities. It's exciting."

Aryeh Leib Hurwitz: Elokai Neshama - Rosenblatt

Cantor Zevy Muller Modim (Hershman)

Cantor Shui Samuels
Retzeh Mibnuchoseinu from Cantor Moshe Genchoff

Cantor Rabbi Levi Kaplan
Ki Keshimcha Cantor Weintraub

Cantor David Babinet Bless this Shul

Grand finale - Shiur Hamalos by Yossele Rossenblatt

For additional information about singing opportunities, vocal training, or sponsoring an event please call Dovid Babibet at 718 772 3543. Free Voice Class Wednesday's 7-8pm 415 Lefferts Ave #C3.

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
Love the conducter
Getting better and better
(8/10/2015 1:06:19 PM)
Pirush Hamilos
Will there be a shiur in Pirush Hamilos?
(8/10/2015 1:06:44 PM)
Manhattan. BH much success
(8/10/2015 1:07:00 PM)
Aryeh Leib Hurwitz Fantastic
so heartfelt. I can listen to you all day long
(8/10/2015 4:41:54 PM)
interested in free voice classes for women too! please organize!!! thank u so much!
(8/10/2015 5:17:11 PM)
I love this. That shir hamaalos tune is one of my favorite tunes.
(8/10/2015 8:41:27 PM)
Sruly Clapman
Everyone has a amazing voice. Just wonderful. And the pianist is also incredible.
(8/11/2015 6:45:10 PM)
I was curious and googled the words to
Bless this shul, its from a song called bless this school !!:

Bless this house, O L-rd we pray,
Make it safe by night and day . . .

Bless these walls so firm and stout,
Keeping want and trouble out . . .

Bless the roof and chimneys tall,
Let thy peace lie overall . . .

Bless this door that it may prove,
Ever open,
To joy and love . . .

Bless these windows shining bright,
Letting in G-d's Heavenly light,
Bless the hearth, ablazing there,
With smoke ascending like a prayer!

Bless the people here within,
Keep them pure and free from sin . . .

Bless us all that we may be,
Fit O L-rd to dwell with thee . . .

Bless us all that one day we may dwell,
O L-rd! With Thee!
Words and Music by Helen Taylor
and May H. Morgan ( a.k.a. Brahe ), 1927

Read more: Perry Como - Bless This House Lyrics
(8/11/2015 6:46:33 PM)
chazzones lover
(8/11/2015 9:37:26 PM)
Moshe Montrose
First a yasher koach to all the participants. And a special thanks to for posting it. Loved it!
(8/12/2015 3:42:34 PM)
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