Brooklyn Boro

New cantorial album invokes an opening of hearts to wisdom

July 21, 2016 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Cantor Shira Lissek. Photo credit: Maurizio-Bacci-of-Babaldi-Photography

Third-Generation Cantor Shira Lissek Served Mt. Sinai for Years

Cantor Shira Lissek, a widely-acclaimed young chazzan who served at Congregation Mount Sinai for several years, has released her debut cantorial liturgical album, P’tach Libi (Open My Heart).

A third-generation chazzan, Cantor Lissek brings to her cantorate a wide knowledge of Jewish music, an inspiring voice, a vibrant spirit, and life-long synagogue experience. She is also a concert artist, operatic soloist, and educator. Her father is acclaimed Cantor Leon Lissek. Music runs in her very soul, as her name, Shira, is the Hebrew word for song.

Cantor Shira was chazzan and musical director at Congregation Mount Sinai in Brooklyn Heights from 2007-2013, and is now at the Park Avenue Synagogue. She is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and Indiana University, and is a proud member of the Cantors Assembly and of Actors Equity.  

Cantor Shira Lissek is among the distinguished Jewish performing artists featured in the 2016 May/June Moment magazine’s Guide to Cultural Arts. Most recently at Park Avenue Synagogue, she produced and was featured in A Tribute to Barbra Streisand.

Last year as guest cantor, she captivated the congregation at West London Synagogue (England).  This summer, one can catch her singing the National Anthem and “God Bless America” for the Staten Island Yankees Jewish Heritage night in August, and at Madison Square Garden for the WNBA New York Liberty team in September. She has performed leading roles with prestigious opera companies and orchestras, and has appeared off-Broadway. Her credits include numerous cantorial concerts and recitals throughout the country and abroad.

Uplifted hands grace the cover of her album, P’tach Libi, symbolizing Cantor Lissek’s passion to heal, uplift, and enrich hearts and souls. Through her music and vocal diversity, she gives new life to ancient texts, bridging generations and opening hearts for prayer.  The CD features her richly expressive voice in selections ranging from a new contemporary setting of Mi Shebeirach, composed for the CD, to cantorial compositions with choir and organ.

“At the end of the Amidah, during our private meditations, we pray, P’tach libi b’toratekha u-v’mitzvotekha tirdof nafshi, ‘Open my heart to your wisdom, so my soul will pursue your ways,” writes Cantor Lissek on the album’s web page. “The music of our liturgy can lift our souls, enabling us to pray or enhancing and deepening our prayers. In choosing the musical settings for this recording, I turned to the compositions that bring ancient texts to life in contemporary idiom, settings that have inspired our tefillah at Park Avenue Synagogue this year.”

This theme is particularly needed at the present time, believes a longtime congregant of both Mount Sinai and the Park Avenue Synagogue.

This recording was created through the generosity of James Goldman, Ph.D.,  in loving memory of Mary Goldman, z’l.

Dr. Goldman, an educator and dean emeritus James Goldman, Ph.D., an educator and dean emeritus of New York City College of Technology, says, “Shira embodies and exemplifies the sentiments about which she sings so beautifully. In Dallas, President Obama mentioned “open hearts” more than three dozen times. In these days of so many closed hearts and minds, the sentiments of Shira’s CD are even so much more sadly needed in this world of daily horrors.”

For previews of Cantor Lissek’s music, visit www.shiralissek.com or https://pasyn.org/resources/music-at-pas/ptach-libi

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