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Music at Temple Emanuel

Beautiful music has long been part of our Temple Emanuel  worship tradition. Our wonderful choral group, the Chailites, perform during High Holy Day services and at Shabbat services about once a month. Also, we often feature an instrumental soloist at our Kol Nidre service. Our musical traditions go back many decades. Allen S. Levin, shown at right, became Temple Emanuel's first full-time Cantor in 1968. A much-loved figure, both within the Congregation and throughout the Roanoke community, he served as Cantor Emeritus from 1982 until his passing in 2009 (may his memory be for a blessing).


A major event in the history of our Temple music was the founding of the Chailites in 1994. Andy Friedman directed the Chailites for 15 years until his retirement in October 2009. One of the original Chailites, Dedra Pentecost, has served as a soloist at Shabbat services at Temple Emanuel from 1997 to present and has also conducted. Other music leaders at Shabbat services during this period have included Star Trompeter (a Roanoke native), Michael Cohen, who has also conducted and sung with the Chailites and directed our annual Purim spiel, and Jeff Marks, another member of the Chailites. Marla Spring (left), a former member of the Chailites, often lead the singing at our Alternative Service, accompanied by her husband, Frank Mugavero.

Some people find God in the prayers in the prayer book read silently or chanted in the group. Some people have their religious experience enhanced by the music. Some people find God in the silence between the notes. I find my spiritual connection to God while singing the prayers and "being" the music. --Marla Spring

Amanda Winter (right) has had an important place in Temple music in recent years. She has been associated with Temple Emanuel first as a student, then as a summer intern, cantorial intern, and cantorial soloist. She spent a year in Israel (2008-09), inaugurating her formal cantorial training with the HUC-JIR School of Sacred Music. Amanda was recently ordained as a Cantor.

During recent years, Temple Emanuel has been fortunate to be served by wonderful student cantorial soloists from the HUC-JIR School of Sacred Music, who join us for the High Holidays and for Shabbat once a month during the school year. Currently, Temple Emanuel is honored to have Scott Williamson as its Musical Director. He is the former General and Artistic Director of Opera Roanoke and an internationally acclaimed soloist. Mr. Williamson directs the Chailites, performs monthly as a cantorial soloist, serves as musical director for Temple Emanuel’s annual Purim spiel and has recently begun a children’s choir at the Temple. We look forward to another exceptional year of music at Temple Emanuel.

Scott Williamson
                                   Scott Williamson

Music Links

jewishmusic.com (Tara Publications) - lots of recorded and sheet music to buy
Zamir Chorale of Boston - loads of recorded music and links to other important music sites

Did you Know?
It takes five years of full-time graduate study to become a Cantor. The HUC-JIR School of Sacred Music requires students to spend the first year at the HUC-JIR campus in Jerusalem, followed by four years of study in New York City. The program leads to the degree of Master of Sacred Music and Investitute as a Cantor.

Mon, October 15 2018 6 Cheshvan 5779