During the 1960s, the volunteer choir directed by a temple member (Don Easter at first and then Jerry Breslow) provided most of the music at Micah services—along with the congregation, which has always been encouraged to sing along. By 1969, Breslow told the board that “the choir is suffering from a lack of qualified singers,” and was given permission to hire up to four professionals. Thus began the professional quartet (soprano, alto, tenor and bass) that continued for 15 years. One member of the quartet, generally the soprano, led the choir. Soprano Margaret Brenner came aboard in 1972. In 1980, she was promoted to cantorial soloist and music director. Meanwhile, alto Barbara Kline conducted the choir. During those years, the choir performed a variety of classics, including the baroque service by 18th century Italian composer Salamone Rossi and the Sacred Service by early 20th-century composer Ernest Bloch.
In 1985, Rabbi Zemel decided on a new direction for Micah music. The professional quartet, including Brenner, left and Teddy Klaus, a musician, composer and music educator was hired as music director; soprano Judith Daniels became cantorial soloist. A greater effort was made to engage the congregation in singing. In 1998, Daniels left and Meryl Weiner, who subsequently became cantor, was hired.
Cantor Meryl Weiner’s Musical Story
My mission is to help the congregation find its voice…A cantor is not just a person that sings on the Bimah.
Music Director Teddy Klaus Shares His Story and Micah Anecdotes
In an instant two aspects of my life came together — my Jewish background and my music background… I play the piano almost every day of my life; it’s a real blessing.