Cantor Shiree Kidron is a unique and versatile vocalist who appears locally and internationally as a classical singer, as well as oratorio and as a Jewish classical and folk music performer. Recipient of many prizes and hailed as a “fresh and likable voice” by the NY Times for her title role of Beauty in Spohr’s Opera Beauty and the Beast, Cantor Kidron is also a proud member of the Cantors Assembly. She has been the senior Cantor at Bet Shira Congregation in South Miami and a Cantor at the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City and is currently the Cantor at Or Olam- the East Fifty Fifth Street Synagogue.
We are happy to feature her as our Artist of The Week!
What or who inspired you to want to be an artist?
I was always singing. There was never a time when music wasn’t the most important thing in my life, and I never imagined doing anything else. I remember the first time I heard Julie Andrews singing “The Sound of Music.” I was very young and was snuggled in bed with my parents, and told them, right then, I have to be a singer. So, I sang, and I studied, and was so lucky to encounter great teachers and mentors along the way, who guided me and encouraged me to follow this dream. As I grew and matured as an artist, it became very clear to me that music is, for me, the ultimate medium to spiritually connect with other people, It is in a sense, ‘the gift that keeps on giving,’ to all of us.
What was your creative journey that has brought you to where you are in your career today?
My creative journey began at the Rubin High Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem, where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance; from there, on to New York, to the Manhattan School of Music, where I completed my Master’s degree in Opera. The New York Times praised the production of “Beauty and the Beast,” in which I sang the lead role. During that time, I performed for many years as a classical vocalist both nationally and internationally, with various ensembles and orchestras, and at venues such as Carnegie Hall.
As I would sit in synagogue, listening to the extraordinary voices of women who are spiritual leaders, it became clear to me that I must connect my passion for music with a growing hunger to touch people’s souls with Jewish liturgy, and contribute to others. I started studying Hazzanut with wonderful, talented mentors, and joined the Cantors Assembly. Starting as a Cantorial Soloist, I was fortunate to lead services at several synagogues, and eventually served as a Cantor at Park Avenue Synagogue in New York, Bet Shira Congregation of Miami, and now, I am the Cantor at Or-Olam-the East 55th Street Synagogue. Throughout my work as a cantor, I discovered music as a powerful medium of connecting and touching people’s lives.
Cantorial Jewish Music goes right to the soul. Now, as a cantor, I see every day how this music can touch someone’s life deeply, whether it brings up memories of unforgettable moments with a loved one, lifts you up at a difficult time, or simply helps you connect to a quiet place within you.
What do you need as an artist today?
In order to inspire others one has to continually find ways to grow and find one’s own source of inspiration.
Living in this great diverse city that has so much to offer culturally and spiritually I find endless opportunities that move me creatively- listening to magnificent Jewish music as it continues to evolve and connecting with other artists and spiritual leaders that are passionate about what they do energizes me.
As an artist and as a spiritual leader I am always amazed and humbled by the way by in which Jewish music has the power to unfailingly evoke a strong emotional response in others and help us reconnect with our faith.
What creative project are you working on now?
A classical Cantorial concert honoring the rich heritage of Jewish music from the 19th Century, as well as contemporary Cantorial music, is planned for next year, and will be held at Lincoln Center.
I am also the lead singer of the Sheba Ensemble, an all-woman group promoting Jewish music with a feminine flair. We compose some of our own music, and also perform familiar and beloved Jewish repertoire with a modern twist. Our upcoming concert will take place at Or-Olam—the East 55th Street Synagogue, on Thursday, February 25th, 2016, at 7:30 p.m.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 10 years?
Inspiring people around the world with new, engaging Cantorial repertoire, while preserving the beauty and tradition of our liturgy is something I will always want to do. I look forward to growing as a cantor and as an artist, sharing my own love for Jewish music and teaching the next generation while continually leading services, performing and releasing new albums with leading musicians and other artists in this field.
What does it mean to you to be an Israeli artist?
While I have always felt Music is a universal language, I am proud to share my Israeli musical background with my audience, because growing up in Israel Jewish music was always an integral part of our identity. I always bring with me a taste of Israel to every performance and musical program I lead, whether it is simply singing in Hebrew, chanting the prayer for the State of Israel asking for the protection of her leaders and advisors or sharing the stories behind the familiar melodies.
What does it mean to you to have an organization like the America-Israel Cultural Foundation supporting Israeli culture in the past 77 years?
It’s wonderful to have an organization like AICF that supports and promotes Israeli artists. It’s yet another vehicle to further strengthen the bond between the two countries. We are fortunate to have this organization introducing Israeli culture for so many years. Israel is blessed with many talents and great minds including wonderful creative musicians, and because of AICF ‘s contribution people all over the world are now able to enjoy the work of these artists as well as learn about their music and creative paths.