top of page

Home >> Events >> Past Events >> 2011


May 22 - 29, 2011

The Inaugural Year!

Sunday, May 22

1:00 - 4:00 pm

Take Me Out To The Ball Game!

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Houston Astros

Cantors visiting Toronto from around the world for the Cantors Assembly International Convention will be singing the Canadian and American National Anthems at the start of the big game. Come cheer the Cantors, and then cheer the Jays!


2:00 pm

Opening of Museum Exhibit

"A Century of Musical Prayer: Cantors of Toronto"

Stroll past the display cases of this retrospective exhibit which highlights the last hundred years of the outstanding Cantors of Toronto. See portraits, bios and artifacts used by Hazzanim from historical Toronto, as well as by those who serve in today's synogogues. In partnership with The Ontario Jewish Archives, this exhibit will be open through the summer.


4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Mazal Tov!!

Jewish Music Week in Toronto & Cantors Assembly

Official Opening Ceremony

It's Lag Ba'Omer, so join the party! Come help up officially kick-off this historical week and to welcome the Cantors Assembly to Toronto. Featuring South American voices of the Cantors Assembly performing sizzling Jewish-Latin music, live on the Jewish Music Week outdoor sound stage. To help the celebration, the children sing: performances by Associated Hebrew School Choir and select singers from Renanim Youth Singers. Come welcome the Cantors from around the world and hear the proclamation that Jewish Music Week in Toronto is now officially open!

8:00 pm

Gala Evening Concert

Music of Canadian Jewish Composers

International voices sing national Jewish works, highlighted by Toronto's celebrated Mendelssohn Choir, conducted by Noel Edison. This magnificent concert will also feature a special memorial tribute to the great Hazzan Louis Danto z"l.


11:00 pm - late

​Informal After Hours Late Night Sing-Along

Featuring Cantors, Friends and You!

Kick back with a drink and unwind in the relaxed atmosphere of a late night sing-along. With guitar in hand and friends by his side, Israeli-born Hazzan Ilan Mamber will lead us all in singing some favourite folk songs in English and Hebrew!


Monday, May 23 (Victoria Day)


9:30 - 10:30 am

Two Concurrent Music Presentations


(a) What To Listen For in Jewish Music with Charles Heller

Where does Jewish music come from? What makes it “Jewish”? How old is it? Using recordings and audience participation, Charles Heller will examine how the evolutionary processes of innovation and selection create new pieces, how people create new tunes and preserve whatever blends in with what they already know. We will look at such iconic pieces as Hatikvah to see how this process works in close-up.


Charles Heller is a Toronto-based composer and arranger. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Synagogue Music and is the author of the award- winning book What To Listen For in Jewish Music.!

(b) Three Generations of Cantorial Art with Cantor Debbie Katchko-Gray

Founder of the Women Cantors Network, and fourth generation Cantor, Debbie Katchko will be demonstrating the use of guitar in classic Hazzanut, integrating a new sound with our old roots. Based on the innovative Katchko songbook, Debbie will discuss the innovations her grandfather, Adolph Katchko, made with the first cantorial textbook of nusach, his vibrant essays and observations on Hazzanut and Jewish music. Sing and explore these cantorial gems with his granddaughter, a pioneer woman Cantor.


​Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray, from Ridgefield, CT, has preserved her family history with the National Museum of American Jewish History and American Jewish Archives. Her new concert, The American Jewish Songbook, explores the musical gifts of American Jews from Molly Picon to Carole King.

12:30 - 2:00 pm

Lunch Time Music - Happy Victoria Day Concert

Renanim Youth Singers / Toronto Jewish Chorus

Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy this uplifting double-bill community concert, featuring two of Toronto’s most popular Jewish vocal ensembles. The perfect way to spend Victoria Day afternoon!

The Renanim Youth Singers is Canada’s only Jewish community choir for school age youth. Completing its 12th year under the artistic direction of Susan Michaels, this award-winning ensemble has just returned from its second highly successful Tikkun Olam Concert Mission to Israel.

Now in its second year, the Toronto Jewish Chorus, a multi-denominational Jewish choir for adults, is one of the finest new musical ensembles in our community. With a wide range of Jewish and musical backgrounds, the members of the TJC share a passion for music and spirituality and, under the direction of Juno award-winning composer Judy Adelman Gershon, a commitment to excellence.


4:15 - 5:30 pm

A Life in Song

Musical Tribute to Debbie Friedman

Songwriter Debbie Friedman gave voice to a generation of people who longed to infuse a greater spirituality into their Judaism. She combined the musical trends of the 60s and 70s with the traditions of our people in unique ways that enabled people to find themselves and community at one time. Joinsome of today's leading female Cantors and singersas we celebrate the beautiful songs that Debbie, who tragically passed away this year, gave us all to sing.


8:00 pm

Gala Evening Concert

An Intimate Audience from Marvin Hamlisch

The award-winning composer of A Chorus Line, The Way We Were and countless other musical record-breakers is the recipient of this year’s CA Kavod Award. Join us for a charming evening of music with Marvin himself at the piano. Witness the world premiere of a new setting to Shehecheyanu, composed by Mr. Hamlisch for the Cantors Assembly. With songs, anecdotes and much laughter, you will be enchanted, entertained, andso glad that you were there to share this very special and most memorable evening!

11:00 pm - late

Informal After Hours Promenade Concert

Featuring The Varsity Jews and "The Aliza Songbook"

Kick back with a drink and unwind in the relaxed atmosphere of a late night Promenade Concert. Tonight’s promenade features a double header -- the lively and enthusiastic voices of The Varsity Jews, University of Toronto’s Jewish a cappella vocal ensemble, and thegloriously wittysongbook of award-winning American songwriter Aliza Spiro ("the female Tom Lehrer"). The energy and antics of these young singers will delight you, and the cleverness of Aliza's lyrics will keep you laughing into the wee hours! Stay awake; you don't want to miss this intoxicating combination!

Tuesday, May 24

2:30 - 4:00 pm

Lunch Time Music
Jewish Jazz with Ron Davis
The development of jazz included people from many backgrounds. Jewish musicians are part of that mix – from George Gershwin, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, to the Brecker Brothers, Bernie Senensky and Julie Michels. In this musical presentation, pianist Ron Davis explores aspects of the Jewish presence in jazz, from a historical and personal perspective.With Drew Birston on bass.

Pianist and composer Ron Davis has performed extensively. He has made seven internationally acclaimed recordings. A sometime columnist for Canadian Musician magazine, Ron blogs at Ron is also Secretary of the Glenn Gould Foundation, and sits on the advisory board of the Jazz Performance and Education Centre.

2:30 - 4:00 pm

The Musical World of Simon Spiro
Accompanied by the Beth Tzedec Singers

In this unique workshop and performance, the world-renowned Cantor, entertainer, composer and arranger will demonstrate how the special Spiro Sound is created. With vocal arrangements ranging from simple four-part to the complex weaving of multi-layered harmonies, Spiro will demonstrate how he takes the voices of professional soloists and blends them into one seamless sound, and why The Beth Tzedec Singers have become Canada’s top synagogue choral group. Hear new arrangements of Carlebach classics, as well as his brand new but already widely popular, Sim Shalom.

Simon Spiro is known in his native England as "The British Jazz Singer" for balancing successful careers in both Cantorial and popular music. One of the most unique Cantors of his generation, Cantor Spiro currently serves as Senior Cantor of Beth Tzedec Congregation, now known as The Music Synagogue of Toronto.

8:00 pm

Gala Evening Concert
Shinonome Chorus of Japan Concert

The unforgettable Shinonome Chorus is part of a Japanese religious movement called Beit Shalom or Japan Christian Friends of Israel. Through song, these vocalists of Protestant Christian denomination show their love and commitment to the Hebrew language, the Jewish people and the State of Israel. There won’t be a dry eye in the audience when hearing the splendid voices of these dedicated friends of our People. This special evening will also feature a memorable tribute to Toronto’s renowned composer Ben Steinberg.

Presented by the Cantors Assembly and Holy Blossom Temple​​

11:00 pm - late

Informal After Hours Promenade Concert

A Salute to Bob Dylan and His Jewish Influences

Kick back with a drink and unwind in the relaxed atmosphere of a late night Promenade Concert. Tonight’s Promenade features a 70th birthday tribute to Bob Dylan, a Jewish musician who has influenced folk, rock and pop music for the last half century. Hear interpretations and join in the singing of some Dylan songs that contain themes of spirituality, Biblical texts and Jewish values. Hosted by Hazzan Sanford Cohn of West Hartford, Connecticut.

Wednesday, May 25

9:30 - 10:30 am

"Sounds of Simcha"
with composer Cantor Charles Osborne​
Cantor Osborne will present music which he has composed for different simchas and life cycle events, with a description of the specific event for which each piece was composed, as well as the various parameters needed to be taken into account to determine the length, level of difficulty, and other such aspects of the piece. Compositions include music for weddings, graduations, synagogue and rabbinic length-of-service anniversaries, and other related events.

A graduate of the Hartt School of Music and Cantors Institute of Jewish Theological Seminary, Charles David Osborne is an internationally recognized singer, conductor and composer. Osborne teaches at the School of Jewish Music of Hebrew College, Boston, and is spiritual leader of the Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms, Lords Valley, PA.

10:45 - 11:45 am

Music for a Jewish Gospel Service
with the one and only Mike Stein​
How can Jazz, Bluegrass, Rock & Roll, African and Gospel music find a place on the bima? Cantor Mike Stein leads this workshop in which he shares his tips and technique for introducing new music in different styles to a synagogue service. He will discuss the process of writing new music for the congregation, as well as the fascinating use of nusach in jazz, bluegrass and more. Based on his hugely popular Every Third Shabbat, involving youth and adult choirs, this workshop is for anyone interested in bringing spirit, kavanah and new music to the bima.

Grammy-award winning composer Mike Stein has been in the original cast of three Broadway shows, has played fiddle in the US Navy Band, and is currently serving as Hazzan of Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, California, where he rocks the shul and packs the house with his musical Friday Night services.

Noon - 1:00 pm

Lunch Time Music

Jewish Broadway: Great Songwriters and Their Songs
It’s no secret that Jewish songwriters invented Tin Pan Alley and the classic Broadway musical. Musicologist/musician Jordan Klapman performs a special new program illuminating the fascinating lives and many of the greatest songs of Broadway’s legendary Jewish songwriters: Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, the Gershwin brothers, Richard Rodgers, Leonard Bernstein and more! Bring your lunch to the crEATivity Club at the Prosserman JCC - a monthly gathering with a mix of arts, culture and fun!

Jordan Klapman is a popular music lecturer and performer specializing in the Great American Songbook and Jewish music of all kinds. His unique presentations of the music of Broadway greats make him a much-sought-after "edutainer" throughout Canada and the US.

2:00 - 4:30 pm

To Life!

A Broadway Celebration of Jewish Life​

This joyous musical revue, produced by Toronto’s Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company, celebrates Jewish life through songs from beloved Broadway hit musicals like Fiddler on the Roof and Funny Girl, as well as the incomparable work of Fanny Brice and Al Jolson. With love, humour and great music, we raise a glass. To Life!

Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company is a professional non-profit theatre company that produces plays with a Jewish perspective, fostering intercultural relations through the arts and educating the public towards greater appreciation of our Jewish heritage.

4:00 - 5:00 pm

Shoah Commemoration


Join Hazzanim from all over the world as they dedicate an engraving on the Memorial Wall to Cantors who perished during the Shoah. Featuring songs performed by the Robbins Hebrew Academy Choir and the Bialik Hebrew Day School Choir, this moving event will be completed with the Hazzanim joining voices to sing the Memorial Prayer together, followed by the dramatic blast of the shofar.


7:30 pm

​Gala Evening Concert​

HALLELUYAH!​ Greatest Hits of Israel's Song Festivals

A spectacular family concert starring a cavalcade of Cantors and singers from around the world, together with the 40-pieceIsraeli Song Festival Orchestra, singing the best-loved Israeli popular songs of the past 40 years. With special video footage of the songwriters. Re-live the exciting moments when you first heard these musical classics, and then re-enact the judging process when choosing your all-time favourites. With student choirs from Tanenbaum CHAT, Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School, Kachol Lavan and Associated Hebrew Schools, this fun and uplifting concert is appropriate for all ages.

Added treat: Special appearance by Israel's hottest new singing sensation: The Ein Prat Fountainheads, stars of the youtube viral videos Dayenu, Coming Home and Raise Your Purim Mask.

Presented by the Cantor's Assembly and Beth Tzedec Congregation

11:30 pm - late

Informal After Hours Promenade Concert

Featuring pianist, singer, songwriter Randy Herman​
Kick back with a drink and unwind in this special late night music session. Join the Cantors on their last night in Toronto. Anything can happen, and it probably will!

Thursday, May 26

10:00 - 11:00 am

Mid-Morning Movie

"18 Voices Sing Kol Nidre"​
Grab a cup of coffee! Take the morning off! Come see the fascinating documentary that tells the story of Judaism’s most sacred chant, Yom Kippur’s Kol Nidre, whose words sparked centuries of persecution and whose melody rescued the prayer from itself. Eighteen voices share their tales about the prayer. Some are experts in the chant, some were just changed by chanting it!

For more information about the film, or to purchase the DVD, visit

12:00 - 1:00 pm

Lunch Time Music

A Yiddish Theatre Entertainment​
The humour, melodrama and music of the Yiddish Theatre is alive and well in this simply delightful show, as Cantor Arianne Brown and friends pay homage to an age gone by. You will be completely charmed, and you don't have to understand Yiddish to enjoy this entertainment gem! You will laugh, you will cry, you will be moved, and you will find yourself longing for your zayde to be next to you to share the experience.

Hazzan Arianne Brown of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles is a renowned specialist in Yiddish music, having performed off-Broadway and Carnegie Hall and as far as the Krakow Jewish Music Festival and Warsaw's Ida Kaminska State Theatre. Arianne writes an advice column for the Yiddish Forward entitled "Tavere Khaznte -- Dear Cantor."

This program is made possible by the generous support of MDC Partners. !Co-sponsored by the TEATRON Jewish Theatre! Jewish Music Week in Toronto is an Al Green Theatre Venue Partner.

3:00 - 4:00 pm

Jewish Classical Music with "String Theory"​
Join us for a lovely afternoon concert of instrumental music, featuring String Theory, the newest professional string ensemble in Toronto. Enjoy music by Jewish composers Felix Mendelssohn and Gideon Klein, whose compositions survived the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Played with spirit and feeling, this music will stir your soul. Refreshments served following the concert.

String Theory is an exciting new Toronto-based string ensemble. Comprised of award- winning string players from Canada and the US, Suhashini Arulanandam, Debra Cutler, Kerri McGonigle and Amanda Penner, String Theory brings a fresh, passionate sound to classical music.



7:30 pm

A Movie and a Shmooze

“100 Voices” Film, followed by Banter with the Cantors
A rare opportunity! See the acclaimed music documentary 100 Voices, about the historical 2009 Cantors Mission to Poland. Then join us for a panel discussion with the stars of the film: Cantors Nathan Lam, Alberto Mizrahi, Simon Spiro and Steve Stoehr. Special edition DVDs with extra bonus footage will be available for purchase following the program.



Friday, May 27

10:30 - 11:30 am

“A Day in the Life of Shabbat”

Cabaret Songs about Shabbat in Yiddish, Ladino and English

Be transported back to a holy Shabbat in Eastern Europe and in a Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) Community. Recall the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and personalities of Shabbat. This colourful cabaret will share, through song, the different aspects of Shabbat: family, foods, prayers, the cantor’s role, and the desire for Shabbat to never end. A perfect way to get ready for Shabbat ahead!​

Originally a singer of the operatic and concert repertoire, Cantor Deborah Staiman has sung in London, Israel, Canada and throughout the United States. Today her concerts feature classic gems of the Yiddish and Broadway stages. In November 2010, she released her first CD "Mosaic."

12:00 - 1:00 pm

Lunch Time Music


Swing by for some swinging Klezmer music with Klezkonnection! This unique Ashkenazic sound is like nothing else and this energetic group plays it with style. You'll love the beat, the sound, the energy. The lively spirit of traditional Klezmer will tickle your heart and lift your spirits for the rest of the day!

Klezkonnection is a community klezmer orchestra under the leadership of clarinettist Jonno Lightstone. In 2010, Klezconnection garnered popular acclaim at the Ashkenaz Festival of Yiddish Culture. Upcoming performances include Scarborough's Guildwood Park Music Fair and Toronto's Arts and Letters Club.

2:00 - 3:00 pm

Sephardic Afternoon

With Tio Chorinho playing Choro!

Swing by for some swinging Klezmer music with Klezkonnection! This unique Ashkenazic sound is like nothing else and this energetic group plays it with style. You'll love the beat, the sound, the energy. The lively spirit of traditional Klezmer will tickle your heart and lift your spirits for the rest of the day!

Tio Chorinho is led by mandolinist Eric Stein, artistic director of Toronto's Ashkenaz Festival and a well-known name in the city's music scene. Eric is joined by both Jewish and Brazilian musicians -- Avital Zemer (7-string guitar), Joel Schwartz (mandolin) and Maninho Costa (pandeiro).

Candlelighting 8:29

Erev Shabbat

Musical “Friday Night Live” Shabbat Services

at Various Toronto Synogogues

Free admission to all Shabbat services. A few have dinners which require reservations and payment in advance.

6:00 pm

Beth Sholom Synagogue
Welcome Shabbat the Beth Sholom way – it’s a rockin’ Friday night with Cantor Moses and the Friday Night Live band. Services followed by dinner and lecture with scholar-in-residence, Rabbi Benjamin Blech, professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University and ranked among the 50 Most Influential Jews in the United States.

6:30 pm

Beth Tzedec Congregation
Be a part of the liveliest Friday Night Live around, with the one and only world- renowned Cantor Simon Spiro and the best synagogue choir in Canada, the Beth Tzedec Singers. The energy and sound of Cantor Spiro and his music will have you dancing in your seat, then dancing in the aisles! Share the spirit of Shabbat with the exciting voices that set a mood to lift your soul and connect you to Shabbat! Then keep the music going afterwards with a song- filled Shabbat dinner!

6:20 pm

Holy Blossom Temple
Rabbi Karen Thomashow invites the community to a uniqueKabbalat Shabbat experience of song and prayer. The Shabbat Fusion band of Aviva Chernick (lead), Aaron Lightstone, Mark Weinstock and their talented friends bring together the city’s finest fusion of jazz, funk, Ashkenaz and Sepharad. 6:20 is when the music begins. 6:30 is when the service begins. Immediately following the service, everyone is invited to gather for sushi and wine. A special invitation is extended to young professionals. All are welcome.

8:00 pm

Temple Har Zion
Join the Temple Har Zion community as we welcome Shabbat with a musically-infused service accompanied by our live intergenerational band. This Friday Night Live experience will feature the music of Craig Taubman, Debbie Friedman, Jeff Klepper, Dan Nichols and many other contemporary Jewish composers. We invite all ages to come, sing along and experience the joy of Shabbat. An Oneg Shabbat will follow.

Saturday, May 28

After Shabbat, approx. 9:45 pm

Community Melaveh Malka

Part singing, part listening, total enjoyment! Come together with the Toronto Jewish Community to carry out the end of Shabbat and begin a new week with wonderful music. A chance to share a special and memorable evening with Jewish music-lovers from all across the GTA. Shavuah Tov!


Sunday, May 29

9:30 am - noon (lecture at 10:00)

Great Cantors of the Golden Age: Yossele and Friends

Breakfast, DVD viewing and presentation

Cantor Murray E. Simon will be showing excerpts of his acclaimed DVD, produced in conjunction with The National Center for Jewish Films at Brandeis University. See rare historic film footage, some of which has never been seen before, of the great Cantors from the first half of the 20th century, including Yossele Rosenblatt, Moshe Koussevitsky, Moishe Oysher and more. Come and enjoy this rare treat. DVDs will be available for purchase.


7:00 - 9:15 pm

Jewish Big Band featuring Bob DeAngelis and his
Champagne Symphony Big Band

Help us celebrate the conclusion of Jewish Music Week in Toronto with some hotter-than-hot Big Band music. Come hear the hit songs of Harry James, Artie Shaw, and the "King of Swing" Benny Goodman -- three Jewish Big Band leaders who influenced the sound of their day. Bob DeAngelis and his Champagne Symphony Big Band will blow the roof off the joint with a blend of horns that you haven't heard in decades. Have a drink or two while enjoying the liveliest night of Jewish Music Week!

bottom of page