By: Fern Sidman

Over 200 aficionados of cantorial music gathered at the West Side Institutional Synagogue on Manhattan’s upper west side Saturday evening, November 20th, to enjoy the vocal stylings of a panoply of world class chazanim (cantors) at a very special kumsitz (party) organized by long time radio personality and music impresario, Charlie Bernhaut. The evening was considered a “cultural happening,” dedicated to the revivification of interest and activity in cantorial music, initiated by Mr. Bernhaut in 1977 with his legendary WFMU soul music radio program. Since that time, Mr. Bernhaut has taken a leading role in the organization of cantorial concerts with his partner Cantor Benny Rogoznitsky at New York City’s Philharmonic Hall and the Metropolitan Opera under the auspices of “Cantors World.”

The informal, spontaneous gathering featured the mellifluous voices of such cantorial giants as Zevi Muller, the cantor of the West Side Institutional Synagogue, Ben Zion Miller, the cantor of the Young Israel – Beth El congregation in Boro Park, Shimmy and Elie Miller, the sons of BenZion Miller, Yaakov Motzen, Elliott Yavneh, Asher Scharf, Chaim Berson, Marshall Wise, Daniel Schwartz, Binyamin Vixenspan, Menachem Cohen, Shimon Leitner and Aryeh Spielman. Accompanying the cantors was the premiere pianist and virtuoso Danny Gildar, who enjoys a stellar reputation as the finest in his genre.

“This evening of cantorial music can only be described as absolutely exceptional in every way,” said Shmuel Greenberg of Brooklyn, New York. “We are truly blessed by the Almighty to live in a generation of those who use their musical gifts to praise G-d and inspire the Jewish nation,” he continued. The established cantors voluntarily contributed their talents alongside musical neophytes, unknown to the audience, but still greatly appreciated.

Under his guidance, Mr. Bernhaut announced with great excitement that “The Cantorial Trio” has been formed which will feature Yanky Lemmer, Zevi Muller and Shimmy Miller. They are scheduled to perform at their inaugural concert at Merkin Hall in New York City on Sunday, February 20th at 2:00 p.m.

Mr. Bernhaut said that the, “West Side Institutional Synagogue and Rabbi Einhorn, deserve great praise for their devotion to Chazzanut (cantorial music). It is their great fortune to have Cantor Zevi Muller intoning the prayers for them every Shabbat (Sabbath) and it is our hope to expand programs of this kind for the entire Jewish community.”

Featured at the kumsitz (party) was a old fashioned “Victrola,” which was the predecessor of the modern phonograph and is part of Mr. Bernhaut’s collection which also includes gramaphones. His private collection of music includes over 15,000 Jewish albums that he regularly shares with his listeners.

For further information on cantorial events, please contact Mr. Bernhaut at: [email protected] or by visiting his web site at:

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