Sunday, October 18th
Speakers Cantor Jeff Klepper and Cantor Robbie Solomon
Included with Museum admission
Cantors Jeff Klepper and Robbie Solomon will present a program tracing the influence of the 1960’s Folk Music Revival from the streets of Greenwich Village to Jewish summer camps to the contemporary synagogue. The program will include audio and visual recorded material as well as live demonstrations by Jeff and Robbie, whose own compositions have become part of the standard repertoire in progressive synagogues and beyond.
Cantor Robbie Solomon of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation is internationally known as a composer of Jewish choral works and synagogue repertoire. His stirring anthem “Leaving Mother Russia”, written in 1979, became the rallying cry of the Soviet Jewry movement and established him as a musical interpreter of Jewish conscience. He has since authored dozens of songs of Jewish content, including “World of Our Fathers”, “Falasha Nevermore”, Peace by Piece,” and is well known as a performer/song writer with the popular Jewish music group SAFAM. In addition to over ten original CD’s with SAFAM, and several of his own production, Cantor Solomon’s works have been performed and recorded by numerous cantors and choirs throughout the world. A recent project was writing a song-cycle for his adorable grandchildren and their parents.
Although Robbie spent most of his career in the Boston area, he grew up here in Baltimore, where during high school at City College, he was president of the Folk Song Club. Cantor Solomon was part of a jug band (Uncle Jack’s Rompin’ Stompers) at City and at Gettysburg College (The Tiber River Ragtime Band) where he earned his undergraduate degree. While studying at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, Robbie played in a folk duo with a harmonica player, with whom he began writing original music. Cantor Solomon plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, and flute.
Cantor Solomon and his wife, Helen, live in Towson, MD. The Solomons have two sons, Byron and Sam, a daughter-in-law, Kristy, and two grandsons, Nicolas and Leo.
Cantor Jeff Klepper is a widely respected and influential musical figure in the North American Jewish community. Composer of hundreds of Jewish songs, his melody for “Shalom Rav,” (co-written with Rabbi Daniel Freelander in 1973) is sung throughout the world. Beginning in the 1970s Klepper, along with the late Debbie Friedman and others, created a new style of synagogue music called, “American Nusach.” Up to that time, Reform worship music was led by a cantor or choir, with organ accompaniment, without congregational participation. By the end of the 20th century, American Nusach had largely eclipsed that model, using guitars and original folk-style tunes that allowed worshippers to sing along with the prayers.
While in college, Jeff met Dan Freelander, who would become his partner in the group Kol B’Seder for more than four decades. One of their early songs, “V’yashvu Ish,” won first-prize in a 1976 song contest, sponsored by the Jewish Welfare Board. They sang with Shlomo Carlebach in Central Park for Israel’s 30th birthday, and in December 1987 they performed between speeches at Freedom Sunday in Washington D.C. Kol B’Seder’s songs, including such favorites as “Modeh Ani” and “Lo Alecha,” have appeared on hundreds of recordings and in dozens of song collections. They have been honored by the Zamir Chorale of Boston, and the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE).
Jeff was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and earned a Masters in Music from Northeastern Illinois University. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music from HUC-JIR in 2005. He co-edited the song section in the Reform prayer book, Mishkan T’filah, and co-founded (with Debbie Friedman) the annual Hava Nashira song-leader workshop.
Jeff has released three solo CDs (Yom Chadash, In This Place, and Jewish Music for the Masses) and Volume 1 of The Jeff Klepper Anthology: Shabbat Evening Music. His articles have appeared in Sh’ma, Musica Judaica, CCAR Journal, JUF News, Learn Torah With…, Keeping Posted, and The Jewish Men’s Torah Commentary. He lectures on the Jewish involvement in folk, rock and popular music, with special attention to what he calls, “Bob Dylan’s Jewish blues.”
Jeff has served congregations in New York, Haifa, and Chicago. Since 2003 he has been cantor of Temple Sinai of Sharon, Massachusetts, and a member of the faculty of the School of Jewish Music at Hebrew College in Newton. He is married to Deeana Copeland Klepper and they have two daughters, Rachel and Liora.