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Re: what's a cantorial soloist?

You'll find cantorial soloists almost always in a Reform congregation.  
For many decades Reform congregations (or, more often, Reform rabbis) 
resisted hiring cantors. This reflected the classic Reform worship 
aesthetic modeled on the Protestant church, where there is one 
officiant, the priest (= rabbi), and where the burden of music making 
rests on a choir with organ accompaniment.  Some of the unavoidably 
soloistic passages were then assigned to the "cantorial soloist," who 
tended to be one of the Jewish choir members possessing a better voice 
and, sometimes, some acquaintance with Hebrew.  Slowly there developed 
an understanding of the broader and deeper functions of a cantor, with 
the ironic result that the first cantorial school in America (founded in 
1948) was the one at the Hebrew Union College.
Cantor Sam Weiss === Jewish Community Center of Paramus, NJ

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