Born in 1921, Raymond Smolover was a highly respected cantor and teacher who served for 44 years at the Jewish Community Center/Congregation Kol Ami in White Plains, New York. Smolover influenced many of the succeeding generation's leading Jewish composers and added considerably to the repertoire of Jewish music as a composer and librettist. Interview by Neil Levin, Barry Serota, and Charles Davidson.
Part 1: Focuses on Smolover's formative years—first, briefly on his childhood and military service, then on his move to New York City and his involvement with Max Helfman and the Brandeis-Bardin Institute.
Part 2: Smolover’s two folk-rock synagogue services, Gates of Freedom and Edge of Freedom, are discussed, as is his founding of the Westchester Opera Theatre company in the 1950s. Through his leadership, the company commissioned five chamber operas on Jewish themes and presented them at synagogues regionally and beyond.
Note: These recordings have been lightly edited to enhance public access.
Date: April 21, 1999
Credit: Milken Family Foundation
Esta Salzman: Yiddish Theater Actress
Dave and Iola Brubeck: The Gates of Justice
David Amram: Composer and Activist
David Diamond: Composer
Hugo Weisgall: Composer and Educator
Yehudi Wyner: Composer
Robert Beaser: The Heavenly Feast
Raymond Smolover: Cantor and Composer
Herman Berlinski: Composer and Organist
Ben Zion Shenker: Composer and Historian of Hassidic Music