The School of Sacred Music
To the Editor:
I read with great interest the article of Kurt List on Jewish music in your February issue.
It was somewhat of a surprise to find that Dr. List does not note the existence of the Hebrew Union School of Sacred Music, which was created last Spring by the Hebrew Union College, and opened with impressive exercises on October 16 of last year.
This School was established after four years of effort to get the seminaries of the other Jewish denominations to join in establishing such an institution. The Hebrew Union College is in this institution aiming to serve not the narrower interests of the Reform community but K’lol Yisroel, the entire community of Israel, without prejudice or discrimination to any point of view.
The School is now concentrating on the offering of training courses to prepare men to serve congregations in the role of cantors and educators, a combined function for which it feels there is a great need, particularly among the smaller congregations of this country.
It has assembled a faculty of outstanding scholars and teachers, including Professor A. W. Binder, Professor Jacob Weinberg, Cantor Gershon Ephros, Rabbi Israel Goldfarb, Lazare Saminsky, Harry Coopersmith, Cantor Moshe Rudinow, and Professor Eric Werner, who is the leading spirit of the School. Dr. Werner is internationally known for his profound scholarship and his extensive researches in the musicological field. In addition, the students are also taught by members of the faculty of the Education School, including Professor Simon L. Halkin, Abraham Aaroni, Dr. Samuel J. B. Wolk, Dr. Philip E. Kraus, Rabbi Edward E. Klein, Dr. Philip Jaffe, and others. The undersigned is Dean of the institution.
We now have a fine student body of twelve, all of whom have excellent voices, fine musical training, and some Jewish background. The course of study is of three years’ duration, and the curriculum covers Nusach, Hazanut, Cantillation, Harmony, Choral Ensemble, Choir Directing, Music Education, as well as History, Hebrew, Bible, Psychology, and Education. As part of the requirements for training, students are placed in week-end cantorial positions in neighboring congregations. The School will in the near future expand its activities to include a department to train teachers for instruction in religious music, organists, choir directors, and directors of music for temples and synagogues. This is the first institution attempting to supply well-trained personnel with a thorough academic as well as practical grounding in all aspects of Judaism and Jewish music.
The Hebrew Union School of Sacred Music is chartered by the Board of Regents of the State of New York and is supported and sponsored by the Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion, and is run in cooperation with the Society for the Advancement of Jewish Liturgical Music.
I am sure that your readers will be interested to know that what Dr. List expresses as a wish is a reality in our School.
Abraham N. Franzblau
Hebrew Union School
of Education and Sacred Music
New York City
[The original “cut-off” date on the musical year covered in Dr. List's article was October I. When publication of the article was delayed, a few later concerts were reviewed, but no institutional developments were included beyond that date.—ED.]