I have been involved in Jewish music for over 30 years. My love for Jewish music and liturgy goes back to 1990 when I began singing with a Jewish choral group in Philadelphia, The Arbel Chorale. There, I met Cantor Sheldon Levin who was vital in the development of my love of the music of the Jewish tradition and culture. After graduating from Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine, I left Philadelphia and moved to New England to practice podiatry.
Over the next ten years, I practiced podiatric medicine and surgery but always felt something was missing. I always had a desire to teach and mentor others. I kept in touch with some of my high school teachers and was in awe over the impact they had on the lives of their students long after they graduated. With the advice of those educators, I began taking courses that would enable me to become a teacher. I am currently a teacher of Human Anatomy and Physiology at Cranston High School West and a part-time professor of the same subject at the Community College of Rhode Island.
During that time, I began singing with the world famous Zamir Chorale of Boston under the direction of Joshua Jacobson. It was here where I began to appreciate the wide variety of music that encompassed not only Jewish culture but also its liturgy. I was a frequent soloist and eventually became the president of the chorale. During my time with Zamir, I began watching and studying the different cantors that often performed with the chorale. I was mesmerized by their skill, passion, and commitment to preserving our traditions. I also began studying choral conducting and got to conduct area synagogue choirs. I even got the chance to conduct one song in a Zamir concert as well!
When Gaye and I welcomed our son Anthony to the family, I left Zamir to spend more time with my wife and son. But the bug of singing Jewish music never subsided. I continued to study and eventually took over the direction of Shireinu, The Jewish Community Chorus of Temple Sinai in Cranston. For the past 11 years, in addition to monthly worship services, I have conducted the chorus (and orchestra) in numerous concerts ranging from Martin Luther King celebrations, Kristallnacht remembrances, the music of Israel, the haunting melodies composed during the Holocaust, and multiple interfaith worship and concert performances.
However, throughout this process my desire to sing liturgical music in a worship setting never subsided. In 2016, I enrolled in the cantorial ordination program of the Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute. The thorough training received at JSLI prepared me to begin my new career as a cantor. I served congregations in Sarasota, Florida and Westerly, Rhode Island.
In the Fall, I plan to begin studying for my master’s degree in Jewish sacred music. The goal is to study at the Academy for Jewish Religion in California. I look forward to learning more techniques and expanding my knowledge. We are never finished learning and I look forward to bringing that knowledge back to UBS.
Please feel free to contact me anytime you feel the need. I am here for you and I am excited to begin my new journey with you.
Cantor Joel Gluck