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FEBRUARY 12, 2015
Sam Glaser/The Light Still Shines On
It has already been two months since we hosted a Chanukah concert featuring the talented and versatile entertainer Sam Glaser at Chizuk Amuno. The concert, made possible through the generosity of Leonard and Phyllis Attman, hit a high note with the audience especially with a guest who turned out to be a former journalist and now a highly successful global and commerce business transactions attorney. She was so moved by the concert that she wrote a review that follows:
By Eileen Burk
Baltimore’s Jewish community was treated to a rare appearance by one of the world’s leading Jewish musicians on the second night of Chanukah, when Sam Glaser performed for Chizuk Amuno Congregation.
Sam has been named on Moment Magazine’s list of top Jewish performers worldwide, having crafted a career out of putting Jewish life to music – including the prayer book, life-cycles, history, even Biblical verse itself – in his library of more than 20 CDs. Sam’s hallmark style has been blending centuries-old lyrics with cutting-edge music, set to sophisticated contemporary arrangements. Diversity is one of his chief attractions, as he performs to audiences of all levels of religious observance, and in all types of musical venues, from full symphony orchestra to solo engagements like the one here at Chizuk Amuno.
After dispensing with the compulsory traditional Chanukah songs, Sam performed “Macabee,” a Beatles-inspired parody that he has turned into a Jewish-pride anthem for the end of December. Then Sam launched into a few of his classics – starting with the lilting fifties-inspired “Shabbos,” “Hineni,” (Here I Am) which is the theme from his first Jewish CD, and “Across the River,” where he traces Jewish roots back to the story of Abraham.
Sam has a particular talent for reaching the hearts and minds of the young and old alike; since this was a family concert with dozens of children in attendance he performed a medley of children’s music from his popular Sony Music album called “Soap Soup.” His repertoire included a tune from his gospel side called “Unbreakable Soul,” a Passover-themed yet universal message of the indestructible Jewish spirit in the face of adversity. Because of the venue, Sam crafted an intimate ending to the show when the whole crowd joined him up close and personal for a stage-side finale of his popular renditions of “Jerusalem of Gold” and “Hatikva.”
The unquestionable highlight of the evening was when Sam spontaneously invited Chizuk Amuno’s Hazzan Manny Perlman onstage in an unrehearsed duet of the prayer Adon Olam. Putting classic medieval liturgy to singable music always risks sounding contrived, but the version was pure gold. The audience was treated to a glimpse of two unbelievably gifted classically-trained musicians – whose operatic voices could comfortably fill Carnegie Hall – yet who have chosen to eschew the Hollywood spotlight to focus their lives on spreading Jewish values through music and to devote their immeasurable talents to inspiring the Jews of all ages and walks of life – one unbreakable soul at a time.