The chazan, the prayer and the synagogue’s chanting

A radio program of the European Institute of Jewish Music hosted by Hervé Roten

MUSIQUES JUIVES D’HIER ET D’AUJOURD’HUI – TUESDAY MARCH 10, 2015, JUDAÏQUES FM (94.8), 21H05. Radio program in French


Called sometimes « cantor », the chazan is an emblematic figure in judaism. Holder of the sung tradition in the synagogue, and charged of teaching it to the children, he represents for the worshippers a very strong identity anchor point.

In the synagogue, people come to hear him sing, but also for reasongs which go beyond his field of application. Contrarily to rabbis, who leave sometimes their community after several years of service, the chazan remains to his position, maintaining thus the continuity of liturgy and the spirit of the community.

For centuries, the position of cantor was transmitted from father to son. Many Jews bear the name Hazzan, Azan, Uzan, etc., which testifies of the presence of one or more cantors among their ancestors.

Apart from his liturgical role, the chazan is sometimes a composer of religious music. This part of his activity has especially developed in Western Europe, in the beginning of the 20th century, where great dynasties of cantors – such as Yosele Rosenblatt, Gershon Sirota or Zavel Kwartin – brought the art of chazanut almost to its perfection.

During this program, the chazan Jacques Arnold will put light on the various facets of this character and on his role in the prayer and singing in the synagogue.

As always, this show will be illustrated with many sound samples of the best voices of cantorial art.

herve_photo_retouche_fond_uni_bleu_500px.jpgOfficer of the Ordre of Arts and letters, PhD in musicology at Paris University Sorbonne, prize-winning graduate from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, Hervé Roten is the director of the European Institute of Jewish Music since its creation in 2006.
Ethnomusicologist, he quickly developed an interest in the safeguard and digitization of archives, subjects he taught for several years in Reims and Marne-La-Vallée universities.
Author of many articles, books and recordings related to Jewish music, producer of radio programs, Hervé Roten is recognized today as one of the best specialists of Jewish music in the world.

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