Cantor Phil Baron
It was Cantor Baron who conceived of establishing the Max Helfman Institute for Jewish Music. He has been the leader in recruiting the remarkable group of composers who have embarked on the journey of writing new authentic Jewish music for the synagogue. He has never forgotten the great impression that Max Helfman made upon in the brief encounter he had with him when he was a very young man. It is Helfman's spirit that he hopes to imbue into the hearts and minds of the Fellows.
Cantor Phil Baron is one the two hazzanim of Valley Beth Shalom In Encino, California. He is the son of a violinist and the grandson of a Vilna rabbi. This combination of influences should have led him immediately into the world of Jewish music. Instead, he first took a successful detour into children’s entertainment, where he had over 300 original songs recorded -- nearly 200 of these by the Walt Disney Company. In addition, he has been the voice of such loveable characters as “Piglet” and “Teddy Ruxpin.”
About 12 years ago, his strong Jewish roots started to pull him in a new direction. He co-created two television series for Jewish children, “Bubbe’s Boarding House,” and the multiple award-winning series “Alef…Bet…Blast-off!” Then, beginning in 1995 he became a frequent cantorial soloist at Valley Beth Shalom, and as cantor eventually helped to create the very successful ShabbosFest monthly service. As a vocalist he has also been featured with the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra and the New Orleans Philharmonic Symphony.
Encouraged by Dr. Noreen Green as well as Rabbi Edward Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom, Cantor Baron entered the Academy for Jewish Religion in 2001 where he studied with esteemed hazzanim Nathan Lam, Don Gurney, Perryne Anker, Benyamin Glickman and Joseph Gole. He received his cantorial ordination as well as a Masters degree in Jewish Sacred Music in May 2005.