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Music at Temple Emanuel

שִׁ֤ירוּ לַֽיְ֨יָ ׀ שִׁ֥יר חָדָ֗שׁ  Sing a new song to God (Psalm 98)

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 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).

Cantor Amanda Edmonson has had an important place in Temple music. She has been associated with Temple Emanuel first as a student, becoming a Bat Mitzvah here in 1997, then as a summer intern in high school and college, and a cantorial soloist and intern after earning her Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from the University of Tennessee. Upon her acceptance into the cantorial graduate program, she spent a year in Israel (2008-09), inaugurating her formal cantorial training with the HUC-JIR School of Sacred Music. Amanda was ordained as a Cantor in 2013, and has served as the Cantor of Temple Emanuel since 2021.

 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. Most recently, Scott Williamson conducted the Chailites as the Temple Music Director until 2019, although he is still currently involved in music at the Temple. Currently, the Chailites are under the direction of Cantor Amanda Edmondson. They sing for High Holy Day services, some Shabbat services, and special events like concerts. Other musical opportunities at the Temple include participating in the annual Purim Spiel - a comical, musical retelling of the Purim story - under the direction of Cantor Amanda Edmondson and Marci Brumberg.

Dedra Pentecost has served as the Cantorial Soloist at Temple Emanuel for over 25 years. She is a founding member of the Chailites, and has dedicated many a worship service to adding music and enriching our congregants' prayers. In addition to her continuing involvement in the Chailites, you can pray alongside her beautiful voice at services at least one Friday evening per month. 


Asherah Capellaro has become an integral part of the music program at Temple Emanuel in recent years. She helps often with the Chailites and also offers her beautiful voice and piano-playing skills as a soloist at some Shabbat services. You will also find her singing at many concerts and special events. 


C.W. Markham has also become an integral part of the Temple's music program. He has been our piano accompanist for the High Holy Days for over a decade now. C.W. is very often invited to play for special events and concerts, as well, always adding his passionate musicality and warm, engaging spirit.




Music Links (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.

Tue, July 16 2024 10 Tammuz 5784