Cantor, Gospel Choir Wow Congregants in Concert.........posted Apr 3, 2006
Cantor Rochelle Helzner (Photo by Ben Zweig)
Cantor Rochelle Helzner gets to show off her dynamic stage entertainer side once a year at the Tikvat Israel cantor's concert, and this year's affair was no exception.
Modern gospel was the music of the moment as TI's cantor of 22 years lent her vocal range and musical arrangement flair to the rollicking voices of the Washington area's Jubilee Majestic Concert Choir on April 2 in the synagogue's social hall.
Cantor Helzner with Kirdell S. Minor, founder of the Jubilee Majestic Concert Choir (Photo by Ben Zweig)
The two-hour concert, which serves as TI's most significant fund-raising event, drew more than 325 attendees. It marked the second time in seven years that the cantor teamed up at her annual concert with the gospel outfit. The show consisted of about a dozen numbers from the spiritual traditions of Judaism and Christianity - all under this year's theme of "Sharing Praise: Where Paths Meet."
The return visit was well-received from the start. As master of ceremonies Jerry Schuchman told the eager crowd at the outset: "Your ears and your soul are in for an extraordinary treat."
The audience's affection for the gospel choir were cemented when Schuchman told the audience that the Majestics use the former Temple Israel sanctuary on University Boulevard, now a Baptist church, as its regular practice site. "Their publicity photo shows them in front of the ark with the Hebrew still visible," he said.
The choir performing with Cantor Helzner (Photo by Ben Zweig)
The 30-voice choir, joined by founder and conductor Kirdell Minor, performed several spirited numbers with soaring solo parts in each half of the show before the cantor joined the longtime gospel outfit on stage. One of the joint pieces, Neshama Shenatata Bi, was composed by TI congregant Terry Horowit.
Perhaps the most creative piece and one of the most engaging, titled "I Gotta Praise Him," found the cantor cleverly integrating a medley of Passover seder hymns, including "Dayenu."
The singers were accompanied by a small band of instrumentalists.
The Majestics are celebrating their 50th year of operation.
TI congregant Hillary Berman did a masterful organizational job as chair of the cantor's concert.