Improvising At The Bima
Tue, 11/20/2012

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 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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