Sold out cantors cabaret celebrates cantor Porat’s 10 years with Bcc
Larry Nathenson, Editor
Our talented, fabulous, and versatile Cantor Juval Porat has done it again! Or perhaps he has outdone himself, as some in the audience proclaimed! On Saturday evening, December 21, Cantor Porat teamed up with Cantor David Reinwald and a five-piece all-women band to fill our sanctuary and bring us a
warm celebration for the longest night of the year.
Entitled “Songs in Borrowed Clothes,” this cabaret continued the annual tradition of Cantor Porat’s December concerts, usually accompanied by other cantors and musicians. Yet this year’s concert was quite untraditional in that it contained no liturgical music (no, Debbie Friedman’s “Latke Song” doesn’t count) and featured only popular songs written or performed by women artists. Cantors Porat and Reinwald expertly wove together a tapestry of popular music from the 1970s to the present with themes of love, friendship, and personal struggle.
As male cantors singing songs that reflect a female perspective, they sought to reimagine them and reinterpret them for a more gender fluid community such as ours. The audience eagerly sang along to old favorites by iconic women artists such as Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” (written with Robert Hyman), and K.D. Lang’s “Constant Craving.” Others were slightly less familiar (at least to me) — Sara Bareilles’s “Orpheus,” Tori Amos’s “Silent All These Years,” and the Indigo Girls’ “Love’s Recovery” (written by Emily Saliers). Kylie Minogue’s “Dancing” (written with Steve McEwan and Nathan Chapman) and the Bangles’ “Manic Monday” (written by Prince) provided a more upbeat rhythm, while Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (written by Allen Shamblin and Michael Reid) and Annie Lennox’s “Precious” conveyed more wistful emotions.
Three of the songs were in languages other than English
– Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose” in French (written with Louis Guglielmi), Friedrich Hollander’s “Ich bin von Kopf bis fuss” (“Falling in Love Again”) in German, and “Bo” in Hebrew from the film “Yossi and Jagger” (written by Miri Feigenbaum and Rami Kleinstein). Musical theater was also represented by Jonathan Larson’s “Without You,” performed by the character Mimi in “Rent.” Several other songs rounded out the program.
In addition to Cantors Porat and Reinwald, the cabaret featured five talented musicians: Elizabeth Yaron on piano, Sarah Midori on percussion, Janice Mautner Markham on violin, Amira Bennett on Viola, and Circe Diaz Gamero on cello. Brief introductions were given by Bruce Maxwell (who met Juval when he was a cantorial student in Berlin in 2008 and suggested he apply for a temporary position for High Holidays that year – for details see the article in the September/October 2019 issue of G’vanim) and by BCC rabbis Lisa Edwards and Alyson Solomon. Rabbi Lisa recalled how Cantor Juval carried a German-English dictionary when he first came to BCC and frequently asked for the meanings of English idioms, but within a short time, he no longer needed it (Cantor Juval later joked that “self-deprecating” was one of the first idioms he learned). Rabbi Alyson reflected on the image from the Zohar of a Temple in Heaven created by music, and how the phrase “Shir El” (song of
God) is an anagram in Hebrew of “Yisrael” (Israel). The evening concluded with a cake and champagne in celebration of Cantor Juval’s ten years of musical and spiritual leadership at BCC.
Many thanks to Kenna Love for producing this amazing cabaret and to Ray Eelsing for his many hours of work on transforming the BCC sanctuary into a cabaret space. Thanks also to Executive Director Rabbi Jonathan Klein and the BCC staff and all the volunteers who worked the ticket tables, sold wine and desserts, and otherwise helped to make this evening a great success.