Barbara Ostfeld-Hurwitz - Interview with Mark Slobin & Louis Weingarden

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Recorded less than ten years into her career, Cantor Osfeld reflected on her distinction about being the first woman cantor. She reflected on changes in the curriculum of her alma mater, HUC-JIR, including a major shift from all-male student body to mostly women, the change from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s degree, the heightened academic study, and the early stages of the songleader-cantor. Cantor Ostfeld offered insight into her work, which mostly concerned the preparation of B’nei Mitzvah students and Shabbat, offering a positive vision of the woman cantor. She talked about her adjustment of musical material written for the male voice, noting traditional hazzanut is not her specialty. On the other hand, she lauded the efforts of some composers who are excited by the opportunity to compose specifically for the female voice. Cantor Ostfeld offered a startling revelation about her own religious views, but at the same time she explained how she remains true to herself in the way she prays and leads worship. Her understanding of Hebrew, religious texts, and her own morality informed her choices as a cantor as clergy. This could serve as an effective credo for clergy.

Summary by Kenneth Feibush (April 2014), 4th year cantorial student in Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, HUC--JIR, NY


Access to archival quality sound files is restricted. For permission to obtain copies of these, please contact Mark Slobin at mslobin@wesleyan.edu.

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