Stephen DeCesare

2004 Eli, Eli
Stephen DeCesare, born in Rhode Island, has won multiple national competitions and received numerous performances and commissions by theaters around the United States. He has a variety of styles in his repertoire, ranging from liturgical, opera, and musical-theater to orchestral, instrumental, and pop. To date, Mr. DeCesare has over 600 pieces in his catalogue. He is currently published with Eldridge Publishing, Contemporary Drama Service, Laurendale Publications, CanticaNOVA Publications, and J. S. Paluch & I. E. Clark Publications. His music has been broadcast on radio stations around the United States, Canada, England, and other parts of Europe.

Leonard Elliot

 (z”l) 2010Aseret ha-Diberot, The Ten Commandments
Leonard Elliot grew up on Chicago’s South Side where, as a young child, he began performing on the piano and as a vocalist. At the age of 16, he and his older sister Sibyl won the Morris B. Sachs Amateur Hour with a piano duet. After graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in journalism, he served in the army for fours years in Panama and Italy during World War II. After the war he returned to Chicago to pursue a career in advertising, working at the Leo Burnett Agency for some 18 years. At age 50, he left the business world and entered DePaul University’s music school, later following his teacher Pamela Kimmel to the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University to complete a BA in American Arts with a major in classical guitar. For the next 25 years he taught private guitar students and music appreciation classes throughout Chicago’s North Shore. With his wife Florence, he was among the co-founders in 1983 of Congregation Hakafa in Winnetka, Illinois, and he served as its music director for some 17 years. He passed away at the age of 89 in February, 2010.

Hélene Engel

2008Shalom Rav
Hélene Engel is an opera singer, musicologist, composer, lyricist and arranger. She has a degree in music therapy from Université du Québec in Montréal, and in France received a Masters Degree in Musicology from the University of Strasbourg and a diploma from the Conservatory of Cergy-Pontoise. She made her professional debut in opera but has maintained a strong interest, both as scholar and performer, in exploring diverse musical traditions and languages. She specializes in Jewish folklore in Judeo-Spanish, Yiddish, Hebrew and other languages of exile. Performance tours have taken her throughout France and to major folklore festivals in Europe and North America. She has produced five recordings, most recently Voyage in 2007. She also serves as occasional cantorial soloist at Temple Emmanuel – Beth Shalom in Montreal, where she now lives.

Cantor Marsha A. Dubrow

2010 Vatikah Miriam  2008Hashkiveinu  2004Mah Tovu honorable mention

Marsha Dubrow is Spiritual Leader and Cantor of Congregation B’nai Jacob in Jersey City, N.J., giving her an ideal platform for creating and presenting her liturgical compositions, which she also performs at venues in the New York metropolitan area and beyond. She has composed settings of Mah Tovu, Hodu L’Adonai, Ki Mitzion, Tov L’Hodot, V’Shamru, Adon Olam, Halleluia, and Shema Yisrael among many others. Her work has been honored at Shalshelet Festivals in 2004 and 2008. A musicologist by training, she is a Resident Scholar in Jewish Music Studies at the Center for Jewish Studies at The CUNY Graduate Center and an Adjunct Professor of Jewish Music at New York University. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, with an M.A. from New York University, and an MFA. and Ph.D. from Princeton University, all in music, and also earned a Certificate in Yiddish Studies from the Columbia/Yivo Uriel Weinrich program. She has received numerous awards from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts in music, including a Composer’s Grant in Musical Theatre and Opera, and Folk Arts Fellowships in Hazzanut and Yiddish Song. A member of the Dramatists Guild and an alumna of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop in New York City, she has produced on- and off-Broadway theatre including Band in Berlin, the story of the Comedian Harmonists.

Steve Dropkin

2004Hashkiveinu Transcontinental Music Steve Dropkin is now recording his fifth album of original Jewishmusic, entitled On That Day. He is a guest lecturer at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City and has performed in England, Israel, and the United States. Steve is the founder of the Birmingham Jewish Folk Chorale. Two of Steve’s major pieces have been published in choral settings, and a third choral selection will be released in the next few months. Recently, he served as music director and worship coordinator at the Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica, Mississippi. Steve has been a finalist in the American Jewish Song Contest. His music has been featured on the in-flight listening programs for Tower Airlines.

Andrew Dennen

 2013│Sim Shalom
Andrew Dennen has been playing, performing and composing music for over 30 years. For the past decade, since his involvement at Hava Nashira, the Jewish Music workshop created by Debbie Friedman and Jeff Klepper, his creative energies have been directed to the world of Jewish music.  At Congregation B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in Deerfield, Illinois, he helps lead worship services and was recently  commissioned to write a new piece for High Holy Days. He has three CD’s of Jewish music to his credit and a new project in the works

Julian Dawes

2008Rahamana • Ha-Neshamah Lakh
Julian Dawes began his musical training in Birmingham, England, and continued at the Royal College of Music in London. He has worked extensively as an accompanist and teacher, holding posts at Drama Centre London, Birmingham University, the The Arts Educational Schools in London, and The Oxford School of Drama. He has directed music for numerous theatre productions in England and internationally. As Musical Director of The Cherub Company London, he composed scores for The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, and Kafka’s The Trial, among others. His Caucasian Chalk Circle and Edward ll are both recognized scores for these plays held by the Brecht Estate in Berlin and have been realized in many productions. In addition, he has composed many works for solo instruments and chamber music. His Songs of Ashes, a setting of fifteen poems by Polish poet Jerzy Ficowski about the Holocaust, has been broadcast in Israel. His cantata The Death of Moses and his oratorio Ruth were performed in London in 2003 and 2005. He is Music Advisor to the European Association of Jewish Culture.

Jonathan Friedmann

2006Mi Khamokha with Roni Kripper
Jonathan Friedmann is cantor at Bet Knesset Bamidbar, Las Vegas, NV. He also plays cello, guitar, bass, and mandolin in various ensembles, including the Hazzanim and Shul House Rock, both with Cantor Roni Kripper. Cantor Friedmann is a composer, arranger, and music teacher, and has written music for the University of California San Diego Music Library, Tzadik Records, and a number of synagogues. He has lectured on Jewish music at California State University, University of California San Diego, and University of California Los Angeles.

Stephen Freedman

2006 │ Esah ‘Einai

Cantor Stephen Freedman, a native of Milton, Massachusetts, is a hazzan, composer and accomplished folksinger. A student and protégé of Cantor Gregor Shelkan, he served congregations in Rhode Island, Florida and Massachusetts before assuming his present position in 2001 at Temple Sinai in Dresher, Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia suburb. Several of his congregational melodies appear in the recently published Zamru Lo: The Next Generation. His 1979 Holocaust work, Childhood Memories, for children’s choir and narrator, received critical acclaim from Anne Frank’s father Otto, who granted permission for excerpts from his daughter’s diary to be set to music. Esa Einai is one of three Psalm settings composed for use at memorial services.

Manel Frau-Cortes

  2013│Kol Sason  2010Shahar Avakeshkha 2008Mah Tovu 

Born on the island of Mallorca, Cantor Neil Manel Frau-Cortes currently serves Temple Beth Shalom in Mechanicsburg, Pa, and also works at the University of Maryland. He earned a PhD in Medieval Hebrew literature (U. Girona), Master’s degrees in both Hebrew-Aramaic Letters (Barcelona Central U.) and Jewish Music (Gratz College) and a cantorial ordination (RRC).  He studied classical and jazz piano, composition and arrangements at Ciutat de Mallorca’s Professional Conservatory, and Taller de Musics in Barcelona. He is a published translator and music researcher. His career as a composer, arranger, producer and performer spans from folk to jazz-fusion and New Age. In addition to liturgical settings, he has composed soundtracks for several short films and music for theatre.

Arlene Frank

2008Safta, Saba
Cantor Arlene Frank studied voice and music theory at the Mannes School of Music, and was ordained as a Cantor/Teacher in Israel in 2003 at the Academy for Jewish Religion. She served as Student Cantor at Adas Emuno in Leonia, New Jersey and since 2003 has served as Cantor at Temple Beth El in Spring Valley, New York. She is inspired to write music when she cannot find the setting she needs for one of her choirs or students. Her Sukat Sh’lomecha is included in Transcontinental’s The Complete Jewish Songbook for Children, Vol. II

Alisa Fineman

2010Mah Gadlu • Modah Ani • Salam, ShalomPeace, Peace Yevarekhekha
Central California Coast-based singer songwriter and cantorial soloist Alisa Fineman was inspired as a child by a musical family and Jewish summer camps, as well as her wilderness experiences in the Rocky Mountains and Big Sur coast in college and beyond. Since then she has toured diverse communities and folk festival stages across the country while deepening her cantorial studies. Her newest CD, Closing the Distance: Poems, Prayers and Love Songs, features contemporary arrangements of traditional and original songs from the Jewish Diaspora. It is her first Jewish music CD. She currently serves Congregation Beth Israel in Carmel, Calif. Her songs have appeared in film documentaries Seasons of the Soul – Holistic Teachings on the Jewish Holiday Cycle, and Sulha California 2004.

Norman Cohen Falah

   2013│Ve Erastikh Li
Cantor Norman Cohen Falah was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the son of an Ashkenazi mother and a Sephardic father. These traditions bore a strong influence, inspiring him to pursue a lifelong celebration of both cultures.  He studied Hazzanut at the Latin-American Rabbinical Seminary, and guitar and piano at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in Buenos Aires.  After serving as Hazzan in Argentina for eight years, he served the Liberaal Joodse Gemeente (Liberal Jewish Community) in Amsterdam, and then Belsize Square Synagogue in London.  He recently joined Temple Sinai of North Dade, Miami as cantor. He has written many songs and several liturgical compositions. His new CD TefiLatina! Includes Latin American Jewish liturgy, modern Hebrew songs, Sephardic and Yiddish music, boleros and tango.


2013│She is a Tree of Life

MIRAJ is an cappella trio with members Rabbi Rayzel Raphael, Juliet Spitzer, and Rabbi Margot  Rabbi Raphael  is a songwriter/liturgist with five recordings to her credit, including Friday Night Revived. Ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, she is the Rabbi of Temple Israel Congregation in Lehighton,  Penn. • Juliet I. Spitzer  is Director of Inter-Cultural Exchange at the International Center for Contemporary Education, and is the Cantorial Soloist at Congregation Beth Israel in Media, Penn. •  Rabbi Margot Stein is a singer/songwriter who has produced or co-produced seven albums of original Jewish music.  This spring, she is teaching Contemporary Jewish Worship at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College as well as Purposes of Jewish Living in the Philadelphia Melton Mini-School.


Sylvia F. Goldstein

2010Eikha Ashir/How Can I Sing? 2008Mi Yodea Oz  2006Shehecheyanu honorable mention  2004Ve Heishiv Lev • Shiviti
Sylvia F. Goldstein brings a classical music background and love for and knowledge of Jewish music to her compositions, which have been featured in the Annual Women Composers Festival of Hartford, Conn. In addition to composing, she has been a director of temple music, taught at community college, and directed a JCC choir. She is Piano/Keyboard Department Chair of the Hartford Conservatory of Music, where she teaches classical piano and theory. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., she studied at the Juilliard School of Music Preparatory Division, Cornell University, Brandeis University and the University of California at Berkeley. She has a B.A. and M.A. in music, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Connecticut State Music Teachers Association, Women Cantors’ Network, and The Guild of Temple Musicians. Compositions of hers have been honored at every Shalshelet Festival since 2004.