Women have had an immeasurable impact on the world of Jewish music, across its many genres; expanding and making it more relatable to a broader swath of contemporary Jewish and non-Jewish audiences.
Earlier this month, we focused on women composers, particularly those whose works are an important part of the Milken Archive collection. Today, we continue our celebration of Women's History Month by shining the spotlight on 18 female artists whose performances have literally and figuratively given voice to the music in our collection.
Whether in song, speech or instrumental virtuosity, the history of Jewish music in America—and our recordings, in turn—would not be as rich or as vibrant without them.
Cantor Ida Rae Cahana has appeared on stages throughout the world, including on Broadway, Lincoln Center, and the 92nd Street Y. She made her critically praised London debut in 1996 at the Barbican Centre in a performance of Vanished Voices, a Holocaust commemorative oratorio.
Cantor Elizabeth Shammash's opera credits include the role of Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo with the Wolf Trap Opera, and her concert appearances have included an all-Bernstein program with the National Symphony Orchestra, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Seattle Symphony under Gerard Schwarz.
After her Alice Tully Hall debut, the New York Times praised Bonita Boyd's performance as “a flabbergasting display of her talents,” while debuts in Los Angeles and Europe inspired comparisons to Sir James Galway and Jean-Pierre Rampal. She has served as president of the National Flute Association, from which she received a lifetime achievement award in 2012.
Zina Schiff was a student of violin master Jascha Heifetz's before continuing her studies with Ivan Galamian at The Curtis Institute of Music. In 2014, she was guest speaker at the convention of the American String Teachers Association, in which her talk, “The Ten Commandments of Jascha Heifetz,” appeared in the August issue of String Magazine.
Carol Wincenc was a part of the ensemble nominated for a Grammy in 2005 for the Milken Archive’s recording of Yehudi Wyner’s music. She is on the faculty of The Juilliard School and S.U.N.Y. Stony Brook, and often serves as a judge for prestigious competitions.
The scope of Re'ut Ben-Ze’ev’s performance repertoire ranges from Haydn to Schoenberg and beyond, and includes collaborations with Pulitzer Prize-winning composers Yehudi Wyner and David Del Tredici, as well as Samuel Adler and Dalit Warshaw. Her performances of standard operatic and concert repertoire have earned accolades from The New York Times, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and the Houston Chronicle, among others.
In 1989, Constance Hauman came to international prominence as Cunegonde in Bernstein’s Candide, in a complete concert performance with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer at the Barbican Centre. She made her New York debut the following year, singing “Glitter and Be Gay” at a Bernstein memorial tribute.
Soprano Amy Goldstein's work with the Milken Archive was indelible, as she is credited in more than 20 works from our collection. She attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, and studied at the Manhattan School of Music with soprano Adele Addison.
For her work on the New York stage, Tovah Feldshuh has received four Tony nominations for Best Actress, four Drama Desk awards, four Outer Critics Circle awards, and the Obie and Theater World awards. In 2000 she starred off-Broadway as Tallulah Bankhead in a piece she wrote called Tallulah Hallelujah!, chosen as one of the ten best plays of the year by USA Today.
In 1988, soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson became the first American ever to give a master class at the Moscow Conservatory. She has toured throughout the world with the Ensemble Intercontemporain under Boulez and given recitals at the Salzburg and Warsaw festivals.
Julianna Gondek has become noted as a soprano of unusual versatility, equally at home in Handel, Mozart, bel canto, and contemporary repertoire. She has made appearances at the Metropolitan Opera, the Netherlands Opera, the Scottish Opera, and the San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, Dallas, and Houston operas, under conductors including James Levine, Carlos Kleiber, and Donald Runnicles.
Soprano Sarah Leonard has sung with the Ensemble Modern, the Hilliard Ensemble, and Klangforum Wien, as well as with the Royal Concertgebouw, the City of Birmingham Symphony, and the London and San Francisco symphony orchestras.
Soprano Ana María Martínez was featured in the world premiere tour and recording of Philip Glass’s opera La Belle et la Bête, and she created the role of the Mother in the world premiere of Menotti’s The Singing Child at the Spoleto Festival in the US. Her orchestral engagements have included concerts with Andrea Bocelli in the United States and with Domingo in the United States, Canada, Germany, Poland, Spain, and Lebanon.
In 1990, soprano Carol Meyer made her New York City Opera debut in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, and in 1993 she toured the Far East as Norina in Don Pasquale and Adina in L’Elisir d’amore. She appeared at the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1991 in Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, returning for Parsifal, Semiramide, and in the role of Constance in Dialogues of the Carmelites.
Soprano Erie Mills sang the role of Sin-Cha in Bruce Adolphe’s Mikhoels the Wise in its 1982 world premiere at the Ninety-second Street Y in New York. Mills is also active on the concert platform and as a recitalist, and on recordings she can be heard in Sondheim’s Follies with the New York Philharmonic and in the New York City Opera production of Candide (Grammy award winner).
Mikhoels the Wise
A noted interpreter of the music of Kurt Weill, Soprano Angelina Réaux made her New York Philharmonic debut singing The Seven Deadly Sins. Her one-woman Kurt Weill show, Stranger Here Myself, was first produced at the New York Shakespeare Festival. She sang in Leonard Bernstein’s Jeremiah Symphony at the Vienna Konzerthaus; and for the Chicago Opera Theater’s twenty-fifth season she conceived, directed, and participated in the premiere of a new theatrical piece, There Is a Garden: A Bernstein Celebration.
Soprano Lucy Shelton has sung the premieres of more than 100 works by such composers as Elliott Carter, Oliver Knussen, Alexander Goehr, David Del Tredici, Ned Rorem, Stephen Albert, Joseph Schwantner, Gérard Grisey, and Lewis Spratlan. She is currently on the faculty of the Tanglewood Music Center and teaches privately in New York City. (Photo Credit: Lucy Shelton Website)
Ladino Songs of Love and Suffering
Soprano Nell Snaidas began her professional career at sixteen as a soloist in a statewide tour of the New Jersey Opera Theater. In 2001, she was featured in an evening of Yiddish divas at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park, and in 2002 at New York’s Folksbiene she sang in an evening of Yiddish operetta by Abraham Goldfaden.