2009-05-06 / Features

'Cantor In The Concert Hall' Heard At Free Synagogue

On Sunday, May 31, in celebration of the borough of Queens, the world center of ethnic and religious diversity, Cantor Steven Pearlston, tenor, and Mason Senft, pianist, with David Davani on clarinet and Jerry Eastman on string bass, will present "The Cantor in the Concert Hall: Music from 12 Countries in 10 Languages" at the Free Synagogue Of Flushing, 41-60 Kissena Blvd., Flushing at 3 p.m. For more information, call 718- 961-0030 or visit www.freesynagogue.org.

Pearlston has been cantor of Free Synagogue of Flushing since 1973. He has also spent eight summers affiliated with Opera Fort Collins as variously, principal tenor, chorus master or conductor. His other operatic venues include The Aspen Music Festival, Central City Opera, Opera Omaha, The Washington Civic Opera, and the Khan Theater in Jerusalem. He has been a solo performer at Alice Tully Hall in the works of J.S. Bach, and with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, where he also served for 10 seasons as chorister. He has appeared as vocalist with the American Ballet Theater, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company and the Joffrey Ballet. He has given several world premiere performances of compositions on Jewish themes at Merkin Concert Hall in Manhattan and at the 92nd Street YMHA Jewish Opera series.

He has toured the United States and Canada with the New York Vocal Arts Ensemble, and has appeared in operetta at the Coachlight Dinner Theater and the Darien Dinner Theater in Connecticut. For four seasons he was sent by the Lincoln Center Arts Program to high schools throughout New York City, in concerts designed to introduce classical music to teenagers. He has served on the music faculties of the State University of New York at New Paltz and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Manhattan, and has given master classes at Queensborough Community College. He is the composer of a complete Shabbat evening service and arrangements of traditional liturgical melodies. His CD, "The Synagogue Music of Frederick Piket", is distributed by the Union for Reform Judaism.

Mason Senft, a classically trained pianist, has appeared worldwide on concert stages from Carnegie Hall to the White House as accompanist to many musical artists. His piano students range from doctors and attorneys to youngsters in elementary education. His biography has been listed in Who's Who in America for the past 30 years and his recording studio is sought after by vocal and instrumental professionals alike.

Founded in 1917, the Free Synagogue of Flushing, a neo-classical building, designed by Maurice Courland that features a massive portico supported by four ionic pillars topped by a pediment inscribed with the words of Isaiah, "For mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people", is located in one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the United States. As the oldest Reform Synagogue in Queens, it was built through the efforts of the Hebrew Woman's Aid Society of Flushing. The Free Synagogue movement is based on four principles: freedom of the pulpit for the rabbi; freedom of the pew--no reserved seating in the sanctuary; direct, full participation of the community, and dedication to the ideals of liberal democracy and commitment to the Jewish faith. The founders' beliefs in commitment, freedom and equality of the sexes remain guiding principles today.

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