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Pianist Laura Leon

A Conversation with Cantor Robert Abelson: From Brooklyn to the Cantorate, Opera, Yiddish Art Song, and Broadway



Distinguished Cantor and Baritone Robert Abelson shares his remarkable journey from his Yiddish and music-filled childhood home in Brooklyn to becoming a Cantor, and taking the stage in concert, opera, theater and television.
His heralded voice and love of singing, including post-college ensembles alongside cantors, leads to an unexpected Cantorial School audition.

He talks about his arrival at Temple Israel of the City of New York and inheriting the mantle of the great Yiddish Art Song composer Lazar Weiner at Hebrew Union College-becoming the messenger for Weiner's brilliant and profound songs, to which the composer bound equally brilliant and profound poetry. Cantor Abelson gave many of these songs their first performances.

Premiering operas with leading companies across the country, starring in acclaimed Yiddish Theatre productions on Broadway, Jewish music recordings, his dedication to teaching, coaching and sharing his knowledge and experience with students, professionals and colleagues alike--all inspiring.

Cantor Abelson extends his enthusiasm during our conversation through a wide arc spanning great Art by an array of singers, composers, and poets--including Mozart, Tony Bennett, Cole Porter (...it's Debussy..."), Irving Berlin and the poet Robert Frost.

Included is Cantor Abelson singing the absolutely gorgeous song Shabbes Shalosh S'udos by the prolific and important Jewish American composer Abraham W. Binder, as we segued to a rehearsal in preparation for the American Society for Jewish Music's March 4, 2018 Music In Our Time concert honoring the memory of Hadassah Markson: A.W. Binder's daughter, an ASJM leader, champion of the Arts and beloved friend and colleague.

Filmed on January 26, 2018 at Temple Israel of the City of New York.

updated: 7 months ago