Longtime Tucson cantor finally gets his farewell

2014-01-30T00:00:00Z Longtime Tucson cantor finally gets his farewellBy Cathalena E. Burch Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

No one really got to say a proper goodbye to cantor Ivor Lichterman when he left Congregation Anshei Israel three years ago.

Instead, Tucson is saying, ‘Welcome back,’ even if it is for just one night.

Lichterman will join one of his former apprentices and a host of special guests for “An Enchanted Evening — A Jewish Music Concert” on Saturday. 

“It’s kind of a ‘Welcome back,’ ” said Congregation Bet Shalom cantor Avraham Alpert, who apprenticed with Lichterman at Anshei Israel, and is organizing the event. “It will be good for him, because he didn’t have a send-off.”

For Alpert, 38, the evening could also be the turning point for Jewish music in Tucson. Ever since Lichterman left, the city hasn’t seen much in the way of Jewish music events. During a Tucson tenure that stretched 20 years, Lichterman was the driving force for bringing in guest artists for community concerts.

The concert will feature a wide range of musical styles both within and outside of the Jewish culture, including medieval Judaeo-Spanish (aka Ladino) songs, Yiddish works, Israeli music and new settings for songs written by King David. Expect an Italian aria and some contemporary Jewish music as well, Alpert said.

“This is an opportunity to bring people together,” said Alpert, listing guest artists that include the Tucson Girls Chorus and classically trained pianist and music director Daniel “D.J.” Sinai of Las Vegas.

Alpert will also perform along with Congregation Or Chadash cantor Janece Erman Cohen. A mostly a cappella Christian band, the Gatekeepers, round out the lineup. The group, which sings in English and Hebrew, is part of the outreach ministry of Ironwood Hills Church.

“These guys are top-notch musicians, and they are in a small church,” Alpert said. “It’s one of Tucson’s best-kept secrets.”

Alpert said a main goal is to bring the community together through song.

“It’s really hard for people to get along. To me, that’s the role of music,” said the Arizona native and father of three, who has been here about 18 months. “It’s like we can just come together and make music and forget about whatever people are bickering about, and get raised up to another level.”

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@azstarnet.com or 573-4642.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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