Improvising At The Bima

Improvising At The Bima

Regarding “Grooving The Cantorial Tradition” (Nov. 2), chazzanut, or, the cantorial art, is often equated to opera, and being a fan of both, I must acknowledge to having heard “improvizatya” at both. 

Most often, it was the tenor who could not hit the high note — or felt that way before attempting it — who made his improvisations, which I feel, as a listener, to be a compromise of original intent. With all respect to the great Cantor Jackie Mendelsohn, who I personally know and love, improvizatya is definitely no artsy nuevo-interpretation of a melody intended to please the crowd. To the same extent that opera star Luciano Pavarotti never improvised in his melodious recital of Italian masterpieces, neither should liturgical music (with it’s semi-sacred origins) be compromised. That is of course, with one acceptable exception — if the cantor has that feeling that he just can’t hit the high note.

Staten Island

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