Yitzchak Meir Helfgot
Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot (Hebrew: יצחק מאיר הלפגוט, Yiddish: יצחק מאיר העלפגאט) is an Israeli-born Hasidic Orthodox Jewish Cantor. He is widely regarded as the greatest living practitioner of Jewish Cantorial Arts on account of his great vocal dexterity and range; like the famous operatic tenors he is capable of sustaining long passages in the difficult uppermost tessitura, while also possessing overt technical facility in executing ornate melismas.
In addition to having held several prestigious posts as Chief Cantor (including Europe and the United States), Helfgot has performed in concert all over the world. In December 2006, under the auspices of Cantors World, he performed a solo concert at the Metropolitan Opera House with the New York Philharmonic directed by Maestro Mordechai Sobol. In January 2007, he sang in Madison Square Garden to an audience of 30,000 at Siyum HaShas. In December 2007, he performed at Lincoln Center in Avery Fisher Hall, again accompanied by the New York Philharmonic, in a tribute to Cantor Moshe Koussevitzky. He shared a stage with Cantor Shimon Farkas of Central Synagogue in Sydney, Australia, Cantor Yehuda Niassof, and rockstar Jimmy Barnes in August 2009. In December 2010, he performed at the White House during a Chanukah menorah lighting ceremony. He has also performed in distinguished venues, synagogues and concert halls in almost every European city and the world over, including the Warsaw Opera House in Poland, Henry Crown Hall in Jerusalem and Carnegie Hall in New York City.
His solo albums (see Discography below), recorded with one of the world authorities on Cantorial music, Dr. Mordechai Sobol, have reinvigorated the art form through record breaking sales in this niche market. Despite the bombast of the musical arrangements, the vocal quality harks back to the Golden Age of Chazzanut, where legendary Jewish singers like Yossele Rosenblatt and Moshe Koussevitsky produced albums that featured both devotional prayers and traditional Jewish folk songs.
In 2012, Helfgot broke new ground with the unprecedented collaboration between a cantor and a world-class classical musician. Renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman spearheaded a project with Sony to record sophisticated new arrangements of famous Cantorial pieces, reworked to include a dual focus on the voice and violin. The music director for this project was the highly regarded expert on Jewish music Hankus Netsky, and the conductor was Australian-born Russell Ger. A promotional tour with this assembled team saw sold-out performances at the Barclay's Center arena in Brooklyn, as well as Boston's Symphony Hall, Long Island's Tilles Performing Arts Center, Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall, and a crowd of 15,000 at the Hollywood Bowl. A PBS special titled "Rejoice" was also filmed in New York City in late 2013, and further performances took place at the Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton and the distinguished Ravinia Festival.
- Borchi Nafshi (2002)
- Habet (2004)
- Avot (2005)
- Mevaser Tov (2007)
- Helfgot 5 (2015)
- Shirat Yisrael (2006) with Chaim Eliezer Hershtik & Israel Rand
- Eternal Echoes (2012) with Itzhak Perlman
- "Park East Synagogue". Park East Synagogue. 1930-03-20. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
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