Helfman Institute Creates Sensation at CA/ACC/GTM

Cantor Baron reports form the CC/ACC/GTM Meeting Earlier this week I had the opportunity to present the Max Helfman Institute to the regional conference of the Cantors Assembly (CA), together with the American Conference of Cantors and the Guild of Temple Musicians, held in Palm Springs, CA from January 3 through January 5, 2011. The response was phenomenal! This annual gathering in Palm Springs draws cantors from as far away as Texas and Oregon.  This year the conference included cantors from the American Conference of Cantors, the Reform movement’s equivalent of the CA, so there were some 70 cantors attending the meetings. Dr. Michael Isaacson, who did a separate presentation on another subject earlier on Tuesday afternoon, was also present. I led a one-hour workshop to explain and present works from the Helfman Institute.  I explained the inspiration for the Institute, the funding sources responsible for its creation, namely from the Jewish Music Commisson of Los Angeles, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles and the International Archive of Jewish Music, and the chevruta-style composing environment we have encouraged.  I also told the group that I had an agenda in making the presentation: 1.       To make them aware of the wealth of outstanding new material being created 2.       To encourage them to perform the new material 3.       To broaden our composer pool through contacts in their own communities 4.       To encourage them to develop and nurture musical talent in their communities Chris Hardin and Bob Remstein were there, and we played and sang through several of the new pieces.  The response was overwhelming.  Many cantors requested copies of all the music as soon as possible.  One even pleaded with us for the right to perform one of the pieces immediately – prior to the premier!   Comments from the group were enthusiastic, excited, and completely supportive.  The only note of disappointment was that most cantors would be unable to attend the Shabbat Shira event.  Dr. Isaacson suggested that they come to the dress rehearsal on January 18 at Valley Beth Shalom.  I believe some will do so. Following the presentation and throughout the remainder of the conference I fielded numerous requests for material and information about the Max Helfman Institute.