Golden Ages – Hasidic Singers and Cantorial Revival in the Digital Era

Golden Ages – Hasidic Singers and Cantorial Revival in the Digital Era

Golden Ages: Hasidic Singers and Cantorial Revival in the Digital Era relates the engaging stories of a group of non-conformist musicians in the New York Chassidic community. Cantorial revivalists are singers who have immersed themselves in the archive of early 20th century commercial Jewish liturgical records, approaching them as a source to build performance identities and musical style. The work of cantorial revivalists is a product of the digital era, shaped both by access to internet-based archival sources and social media platforms for self- promotion. More frequently heard online, in private parties and in concert venues than in synagogues, the work of cantorial revival pushes at normative associations with Jewish prayer, blurring the line between ritual and art.

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I suggest that contemporary Hasidic cantorial revivalists are not only reviving a style of music but are also engaged in a revival of a form of comportment in prayer that foregrounds the role of cantor as arbiter of sacred experience. For cantorial revivalists to achieve their musical goals they must interpolate audiences into an embodied emotional response to the musical cues of the prayer leader. Producing this kind of sacred music community, centered on the experience of listening to the archive, is a utopian aspiration that has not been realized by the revivalists, and perhaps cannot be achieved in the cultural climate of the American synagogue. This has not dissuaded singers from investing time and resources into self-cultivation of a musical practice with no clear home in the current moment.

Golden Ages: Brooklyn Chassidic Cantorial Revival Today, an album produced by Jeremiah Lockwood featuring some of the brightest voices in the Brooklyn cantorial scene, will be reissued in 2024.

Concerts of cantors featured in the book take place on an ongoing basis.

Look out for a Germany tour in March 2024! A concert with Yanky Lemmer, Yoel Kohn and Shimmy Miller, produced, accompanied and featuring new string quartet arrangements by Lockwood, debuted at the 2022 Krakow Jewish Culture Festival.