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2010-09-10 digital edition
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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


 

September 10, 2010  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

‘100 Voices’ cantorial tour movie to be shown locally

By MICHAEL FOX Special to the Jewish Press

A melodious, bittersweet record of a once-in-a-lifetime tour, 100 Voices: A Journey Home offers poignant evidence that sometimes you can go home after all. Just be sure to take a handkerchief.

Matthew Asner (Ed’s son) and Danny Gold’s exemplary documentary will have an unusual one-time screening on Tuesday, Sept. 21 at 500 theaters around the country including the Tampa Bay area.

100 Voices: A Journey Home nimbly transports us across Poland for a series of concerts by more than 70 cantors from around the world in various settings, backed by local choirs and orchestra.

The 2009 tour was organized by Cantor Nate Lam of Los Angeles as both a pilgrimage to the places where the cantorial tradition originated and as a way to expand and deepen the relationship between Poles and American Jews.

One wishes the filmmakers had emphasized the former a little less and the latter a little more, and steered away from yet another iteration of the Holocaust documentary. That said, 100 Voices: A Journey Home delivers on multiple levels with an abundance of gorgeous singing and moving commemorations.

It’s no secret that cantors have healthy egos—they are performers, after all, as well as spiritual emissaries — but the gravitas of the occasion, deepened by the Holocaust’s impact on several of their families, has a humbling effect.

Indeed, a segment that’s arguably the highlight of the film honors well-known Yiddish and American cantors such as Yossele Rosenblatt and Moishe Oysher. It’s great fun hearing the contemporary cantors describe how they discovered their calling, and sharing their admiration for the immortals who preceded them.

A similar commitment to following in blessed footsteps informs the recollections of South Africa-raised cantors Ivor and Joel Lichterman as they sit in the Nozyck Synagogue in Warsaw, where their father chanted and presided from the bimah before the war. History rarely comes alive in such a heart-warming fashion.

The filmmakers skip the behindthe scenes minutiae of logistics and meetings and rehearsals, allotting a few minutes at the beginning to set the scene and present the Poles as Nazi victims who’ve gradually come to the sad realization that a large chunk of their culture was destroyed along with the Jews. I’m not fully persuaded, I confess, even after watching the cantors perform for 15,000 enthusiastic non-Jews at the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow near the end of the film.

100 Voices: A Journey Home artfully interweaves the memories and day trips of the Lichtermans, various other cantors and composer Charles Fox — who crafted an aria from the prayer for forgiveness that Polish-born Pope John Paul II famously placed at the Wailing Wall in 2000 — with their respective turns in the concert spotlight. Each of these segments is eloquent, moving and impeccably structured, yet it gradually dawns that the filmmakers are focusing almost exclusively on those who lost Polish relatives in the Holocaust.

They spend the days looking for traces of their erased families in a forgotten corner of town, or a killing field, or a concentration camp, or a cemetery. It’s terrifically powerful stuff, but a cantorial tour of Poland, not a roots trip, is what’s unique about this endeavor. In taking the time to traverse familiar terrain, 100 Voices: A Journey Home sacrifices not just a little specialness but the opportunity to treat us to even more brilliant vocal performances.

Perhaps I’m being a tad greedy. Musically, historically and culturally, there is an enormous amount to savor here.

Locally, the film will play at 7 p.m. at the Park Place Stadium 16, Pinellas Park; AMC Woodland Square 20, Oldsmar; AMC Regency 10, Brandon; the Citrus Stadium Park Mall 20 and Hyde Park Cinebristro, both in Tampa. Tickets are $12.50 - $15 depending on location.

The one-time event also features a closed-circuit performance by the cantors of Broadway musical numbers by Jewish composers.

To purchase tickets and more information, go online to www. fathomevents.com.

Michael Fox is a Californiabased movie reviewer.


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