through a sea of sound

Shab­bat Shi­rah usu­al­ly marks the begin­ning of Jew­ish Music Month. How­ev­er, I’ve not seen any ref­er­ence to it this year. Nonethe­less, it is appro­pri­ate that this week marks the cel­e­bra­tion of a sig­nif­i­cant anniver­sary in Amer­i­can Jew­ish music.

from חזן to opera star

The fam­i­ly in which I grew up was (to put it mild­ly) not par­tic­u­lar­ly com­mit­ted to Jew­ish rit­u­al life. My father was an athe­ist who attend­ed “Red Seders” (odd, I can find no ref­er­ence to these on the Web) in his youth. My moth­er was an agnos­tic whose favorite “proof for the pos­si­ble exis­tence of God” was that peo­ple were able to cre­ate beau­ti­ful sus­pen­sion bridges. While we attend­ed Sun­day School wher­ev­er our father taught adult edu­ca­tion cours­es, we were not mem­bers of a syn­a­gogue until our father’s army bud­dy con­vinced him that I should have a Jew­ish edu­ca­tion that would lead to cel­e­brat­ing becom­ing bar mitz­vah. [“You nev­er know, it might prove valu­able.”] On Rosh haShan­nah we would attend ser­vices at a hall in Hol­ly­wood where Arno Tan­ney sang; I think our moth­er had a “crush” on him. After ser­vices we’d dri­ve out to Venice Beach and spend the late after­noon watch­ing to near equinoc­tial sun set in the Pacif­ic ocean.

In lat­er years we would skip ser­vices com­plete­ly and lis­ten to can­to­r­i­al music. Among our favorites, even though it did not have High Hol­i­day music was Richard Tuck­er singing Can­to­r­i­al Jew­els.

richard tucker sings cantorial jewels

richard tuck­er sings can­to­r­i­al jew­els

While Tuck­er was not the only Jew­ish vocal­ist who moved between opera and chaz­zanut (Jan Peerce imme­di­ate­ly comes to mind), he is by far the most famous. He even has a “square” (actu­al­ly a tiny tri­an­gle) named after him across from Lin­coln Cen­ter in Man­hat­tan with his bust.

lin­coln square busi­ness improve­ment dis­trict free con­cert at richard tuck­er park

In 2011 I noticed a cou­ple of lapel but­tons that referred to the Richard Tuck­er Music Foun­da­tion. I had nev­er heard of it before. The year 2013 marked the 100th anniver­sary of his birth. The Foun­da­tion cel­e­brat­ed with a num­ber of events. In par­tic­u­lar a gala at Lin­coln Cen­ter: Richard Tuck­er at 100: An Opera Cel­e­bra­tion which will be broad­cast on PBS Fri­day evening Jan­u­ary 10, 2014 at 9:00 PM (check your local list­ings).

tucker power

tuck­er pow­er

Date: 1980s?
Size: 7.62
Pin Form: clasp
Print Method: cel­lu­loid
Text Tuck­er Pow­er
The Richard Tuck­er Music Foun­da­tion

your lapel buttons

Many peo­ple have lapel but­tons. They may be attached to a favorite hat or jack­et you no longer wear, or poked into a cork-board on your wall. If you have any lay­ing around that you do not feel emo­tion­al­ly attached to, please let me know. I pre­serve these for the Jew­ish peo­ple. At some point they will all go to an appro­pri­ate muse­um. You can see all the but­tons shared to date.

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