Saturday, March 01, 2008

Auditioning cantors

It was the anniversary of my mother's death, so I went to the Sabbath service at our synagogue. Little did I know they would be auditioning cantors. And of course the prospective hire has to prove her lyrical chops. When I say her, I mean her, because most of the candidates have been women.

Didn't I read--I think it was a book called Heartburn by Nora Ephron--about someone being the first Jewish Kimberly? Well, Kimberly is old hat now, but the prospective cantor was the first Jewish Caitlyn I've ever encountered. I'm sure there are plenty of them, but she was my first.

Anyway, she had a lovely voice--just beautiful. I would also give her high marks for her Torah knowledge. But one thing drove me crazy. All the tunes she sang were new to me.

I learned the entire Shabbat service when my oldest grandson studied for his bar mitzvah, a process that seemed to take about ten years. I could sing it in my sleep. But don't change the tunes on me. I like the ones I'm familiar with.

Ms Caitlyn gave it an extra spin, demonstrating her virtuosity by singing endless repeats of verses. As I said, she was terrific. And what a set of lungs! The girl had staying power.

The only thing was, the service lasted three and a half hours. It was longer than the previous contender, the Martin Luther King Interfaith service, and it's unfair to compare the two, because the MLK thing had contributions by clergypersons and choirs from all the churches around, plus readings from the works of the great man.

Today's service was about as long as a Wagner opera, but with no intermissions. It went on so long that the president didn't even make the customary announcements, wearily advising those assembled to consult the monthly bulletin for information. Then everyone made a beeline for the bathrooms.


Rachel said...

The High Holidays are going to be hell with Ms. Caitlyn at the helm.

miriam said...

They might hire one of the other contenders.