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Charles Davidson (b1929)

Born in Pittsburgh in 1929, Charles Davidson is one of the most frequently commissioned composers by synagogues, cantors, and Jewish organizations, as well as by general secular choruses across America. He was one of the first graduates of the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Cantors Institute (now the H.L. Miller Cantorial School), where he later also received his doctorate in sacred music and where he has served on the faculty since 1977 (now Nathan Cummings Professor). Early in his career, Cantor Davidson became the music director and conductor of the International Zionist Federation Association Orchestra at the University of Pittsburgh and of the Hadassah Choral Society, and director of the Pittsburgh Contemporary Dance Association. Prior to his formal cantorial training at the seminary, he was a student at the unique Brandeis Arts Institute (a division of the Brandeis Camp Institute) in Santa Susana, California. The program there under the direction of the conductor and composer Max Helfman provided a rich and exciting forum for Jewish arts by bringing established Jewish musicians, dancers, and other artists of that period together with college-age students in an effort to broaden their creative horizons in the context of contemporary Jewish expression. Davidson and other future composers of distinction, including Yehudi Wyner and Jack Gottlieb, were able to benefit from the influence and tutelage of distinguished resident artists among them Julius Chajes, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Erich Zeisl, and Heinrich Schalit.

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