A People’s Soundtrack: special preview of film on Montreal’s greatest tenors and sopranos

By Mike Cohen

Montreal has long been known worldwide as a center of cantorial music. The Jewish equivalent of classical music, it enjoyed its cultural craze in the 50’s and 60’s but subsequently came to be known as a lost and dying art. When the late cultural icon, singer / songwriter and native son Leonard Cohen returned to his Montreal Jewish roots with his final Grammy award-winning album You Want It Darker, his collaboration with renowned Montreal Cantor Gideon Zelermyer thrust the ancient art-form back into the spotlight giving it widespread attention.

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Cantor Gideon Zelermyer

A People’s Soundtrack explores this long and rich musical history and its relationship to both Montreal and its, celebrated, Jewish history. Mixing rare photos, intimate interviews, candid family moments and performance footage from some of the city’s greatest, Jewish tenors and sopranos, A People’s Soundtrack celebrates the unique ways the active voices of today are fighting to keep the ritual observances and emotional expressions of their communities alive.

Mountain Lake PBS and ONTIC Media will present an exclusive sneak preview of the new film on Saturday, March 2,  ( 7:30 pm) at The Segal Centre for the Performing Arts  (5170 Cote St. Catherine).Seating is limited so those interested must reserve early at emb@onticmedia.com. The  program will feature renowned Montreal cantors Sidney Dworkin, Rona Nadler, Adam Stotland, Daniel Benlolo  and Gideon Zelermyer. A People’s Soundtrack will premiere on Mountain Lake PBS on Tuesday, March 5  at 8 pm

The documentary is executive produced by Marvin Rosenblatt and directed by Evan Beloff (2017 Canadian Screen Award finalist for his documentary “Kosher Love”, and more recently “Daughters of the Voice” for CBC’s documentary strand “Absolutely Canadian / Absolutely Quebec”).

“The cantorial profession is a sacred calling,” said Cantor Dworkin, “The cantor is able to go into a whole different realm with the music, a very holy place. The cantor, who is the leader of prayer, is a messenger of the people. Our real function is to gather the prayers of all the congregants and to present them to God on high.”