With the cantors and choirs of Beth Tikvah Synagogue and Lodzer Centre Congregation participating, an upcoming cantorial cabaret in Toronto promises to be a musical extravaganza.
Cantors Tibor Kovari of Beth Tikvah and David Young of Lodzer Centre will be joined by their choirs – the Lodzer Centre’s includes 20 singers and Beth Tikvah’s is made of 30 members. Each choir will perform separately and the singers will team up for some musical selections.
The Beth Tikvah program includes parts of the Selihot suite, which was compiled by the prominent Canadian composer Srul Irving Glick, the synagogue’s choir director and composer-in-residence from 1969 to 2002. “Our Selihot service is a very popular service here in the city and is kind of a tradition here at Beth Tikvah,” Kovari said.
From Glick’s Selihot suite, Kovari and the Beth Tikvah singers will perform Zavel Zilbert’s “El Melech Yoshoez,” the petitional prayer for the forgiving of sins and the main theme and refrain of the Selihot service. “That’s probably the most impressive piece in the suite,” Kovari said.
On the lighter side of the Beth Tikvah program is Glick’s “Methalkel Chayim.” “This one is more like a very syncopated 1960s to ’70s kind of a jazzy feel, which Srul was a master of. He incorporated in his liturgical music, quite often, rhythms sounding like modern western music,” Kovari said.
Toward the end of the program, Kovari and the choir put Israeli composer Mordechai Sobol in the spotlight with a performance of his “Oseh Shalom,” a prayer for peace. Sobol popularized cantorial music in Israel.
Lodzer Centre’s cantor, David Young, said their program will feature Shabbat and holiday pieces, as well as secular Hebrew choral music and some opera.
His son Jakie, 26, who was a child soloist from the age of eight to around 13, will sing the pop song “Rainbow.” Kacey Musgraves sang it at the 2019 Grammys.
Young, who was at Shaar Shalom and Beth Torah before joining Lodzer Centre, is a self-taught cantor.
At the age of nine, he joined the Shaarei Shomayim choir and at 16 he became the synagogue’s choir conductor, under Cantor Harold Klein. “I was his conductor for about 20 years. I was billed as the youngest conductor in Canada at the age of 16,” Young said.
“The time I was at Shaarei Shomayim under Harold Klein – that’s where I learned everything I needed to learn related to hazzanut. I memorized the service without having to go to cantorial school.”
On the other hand, the Romanian-born Kovari attended rabbinical school in Budapest, and at the same time he was enrolled in the cantorial program there. From 1997 to 2000, he continued his studies in Bucharest, while in the position of cantor at the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania. Kovari and his wife moved to Canada in 2001 and he’s been the hazzan at Beth Tikvah since 2003.
Kovari is looking forward to sharing the stage with his friend, David Young. “I’m looking forward for that friendship and camaraderie to inspire on the stage and to create a really good feel in the room,” he said.
For tickets to the cantorial cabaret ($25 in advance, $30 at the door) at 7 p.m. on June 13 at the Lodzer Centre, call 416-636-6665. For more information, visit lodzer.ca.