By Cantorial Soloist Lindi Rivers
On Sunday, March 26 I had the pleasure of participating in a concert at Temple Adat Elohim in Thousand Oaks, California, to honour the 50th Anniversary of the Guild of Temple Musicians. My fellow GTM board members gathered from across the United States (and me from Canada) to participate, along with our colleagues in California. The music was composed and performed by members of the GTM with a wide range of styles and moods.
Let me tell you about the GTM. The Guild of Temple Musicians is an affiliate of the American Conference of Cantors. The relationship which has grown and flourished with the ACC is treasured. We are a professional organization of dedicated musicians, diverse in background, who serve our congregations, the Reform Movement, and support our Rabbinic and Cantorial clergy partners. Guild members are music directors, choral conductors, composers, music educators, choir members, organists, keyboardists, guitarists, cantors, cantorial soloists, song leaders, and anyone who makes music in celebration of Jewish Worship. We sing, play, educate, conduct, compose and create, working to sustain our Jewish musical heritage. We are committed to providing innovative education, professional development, and connection for our members, so they can serve their communities wholeheartedly. Our mission is this: To support a diverse community that creates and celebrates Jewish music through education and collaboration.
I have been a member for approximately 25 years, and a Board Member since 2018. Currently, I am privileged to be the Secretary.
The Guild of Temple Musicians was formed in 1972 and has evolved through the years to become the important source of education and support that exists today.
In 1990, The Ben Steinberg Young Composer’s Award (originally called the GTM Young Composer’s Award) was established in an effort to replenish the number of aging composers of serious Jewish Music at the time, as well as emphasize the importance of traditional, adult music in worship services. The project, which encouraged young Jewish composers to produce fully realized solo and choral works for the synagogue and bring a new generation of classically trained creative musicians into the field of Jewish music, has produced many beautiful works from gifted young composers and attracted a number of these composers to become active contributors to synagogue music.
The Award continues to grow in stature and currently offers a $2,500 prize to the winner and the opportunity to premiere his/her new work at the ACC/GTM Convention during the year of their win.
The GTM Shomeir Shirah Award was established in 1990 to recognize persons of good character who have made significant contributions to the Guild, furthered its mission, and have, because of these things, strengthened excellence in the field of synagogue music.
Previous recipients of this award have ranged from Guild members themselves to cantors and rabbis in our movement, and to others who have devoted themselves to reinforcing the work of the Guild.
In 2010, The Guild, along with the ACC and the Joint Commission on Worship, Music, and Religious Living of the Union for Reform Judaism, created the “Generation to Generation Prize.” This prize is awarded to a talented high school student who demonstrates promise in creating melodies that show sensitivity to the setting of Jewish liturgical texts. The winner is then paired with an experienced composer of Jewish liturgical music to refine and expand his/her understanding of the piece.
Even before the pandemic, the GTM created “Guild Talks Music” to provide online educational webinars. We were ahead of our time and became an invaluable source of connection when the pandemic hit and we all moved our lives onto the screen. A second virtual initiative, “Guild Cares” offered the opportunity for our members to share concerns and challenges throughout the pandemic, and we continue to provide these sessions.
Another new GTM initiative is our mentorship program, where members who wish to advance their skills, whether they are cantors, cantorial soloists, composers, or accompanists can be matched with a mentor.
I am deeply honoured to be a part of this group of extraordinary people and look forward to the creative ways in which the GTM and its members will enrich and strengthen one another and the world of Jewish music.