Richard A Braun MD, Chairman/Founder
Richard A. Braun, MD, founder and chairman of the Jewish Music Commission of Los Angeles, is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, and a fervent amateur chamber musician with a passion for the viola.
He was raised in a home filled with music, including that of the great cantors of the pre-World War II era, several of whom he heard as a child. Coming to Los Angeles in 1960, Dr. Braun joined the congregational choir at Valley Beth Shalom and met Cantor Samuel Fordis, who helped instill in him the love of Jewish music, taught him the essence of Nusachot and Trope and encouraged him to learn about new Jewish music. When the now-renowned Aminadav Aloni came to Valley Beth Shalom in the early 1970's,
Dr. Braun had the unique opportunity to be part of Aloni's astounding development as a major composer of new Jewish music. It was this association with Ami Aloni that led Dr. Braun to found the Jewish Music Commission of Los Angeles (JMCLA) in 1982.
In the ensuing decades, Dr. Braun has presided over a greatly varied progression of concerts, festivals, competitions and educational programs at JMCLA. Early on, Dr Michael Isaacson became and remains deeply involved in the organization, developing a series of major concerts featuring works of renowned living Jewish composers, helping to recruit the most outstanding performers in the country to appear in these programs.
Competitions, first for works based on Biblical and liturgical sources, and then song competitions, have drawn entries from a truly international group, with the awarding of major prizes to the winners. Juries for these competitions are selected from leading composers and performance artists in Los Angeles.
Dr. Braun’s friendships with the late Robert Strassburg, Jon Bailey, Nick Strimple and Craig Taubman have been a source of personal pleasure and encouragement.
Ami Aloni, until his untimely death in 1999, was a constant source of energy and innovation.
Sam Glaser, talented performer and composer, was JMCLA’s Executive Director from 1992 to 1995, and brought the finest of the young Jewish performers to the Song Festivals.
With David S. Kates, who was our Executive Director for over six years, a new emphasis on providing educational opportunities for Jewish composers and artists has become a major focus of the Commission.
Dr. Braun's thirty-year experience as lay cantor at Valley Beth Shalom has also served as an important reason for him to continue encouraging the composition of new, authentic Jewish music. He has seen first-hand what a positive influence this has on the congregation, the children in its schools and on the professional staff, bringing new life and light to the liturgy.
It is his hope that this important dimension of Jewish life can be transmitted to the community and enhance Jewish life into this new millennium.