Benjie Ellen Schiller, Cantor, MSM

Contact Information

Email: 
BenjiEllen@aol.com
Phone: 
(212) 824-2245
Professor of Cantorial Arts

HUC-JIR/New York

Program/School: 
Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, New York; Rabbinical Program, New York
Academic Field: 
Sacred music
Research Interests: 
Sacred Music; Composition; Prayer Leading; Spirituality

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Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller is Professor of Cantorial Arts at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music. Her work involves training cantorial and rabbinical students to bridge the gap between performance and spiritual leadership. 

She serves as cantor of Bet Am Shalom Synagogue of White Plains, New York with her husband, Rabbi Lester Bronstein. 

She is a nationally known composer.  Her works include “Life-Song Cycle,” a series of pieces for Jewish life passage ceremonies; “Halleluhu,” a multi-rhythmic setting of Psalm 150; “Lamdeini;” “You are My Song;”  “U’kratem D’ror- Proclaim Liberty,” an American/Jewish response to 9/11, and various commissioned works for choirs, synagogues and interfaith liturgical groups. A World Fulfilled, a solo recording of her compositions, was released in 2002. 

Cantor Schiller serves as a faculty consultant for the Union for Reform Judaism, and a part time faculty member of the Institute for Jewish SpiritualityRabbinic program and the North American Jewish Choral Festival.

Selected Publications and Edited Works

"Yihiyu L'ratson" for cantor, choir and piano, Transcontinental Music, 2010

"Lamdeini" for solo, congregation and piano, Transcontinental Music, 2010

"You Are My Song" -- commissioned by the 2009 graduating rabbinical and cantorial classes of Hebrew Union College, New York -- for choir, congregation and piano, Transcontinental Music, 2010

 “Water to Water” for voice and piano, commissioned by Mayyim Hayyim – Living Waters Communal Mikveh, Newton MA – 2003; choral arr. commissioned by the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music graduates of 2013

“ U’k’ratem D’ror – Proclaim Liberty,” choral cantata for soprano solo, choir and piano, commissioned by the Zamir Chorale of New York, 2001

  “Halleluhu (Psalm 150)” for solo, choir, guitar and percussion, Transcontinental Music, 1987 

The Cantor’s Spiritual Challenge: Defining Agency in Prayer,” Journal of Synagogue Music, Fall 2005

The Many Faces of Jewish Synagogue Music,” Synagogue 2000 Prayer curriculum, 1999

The Development of Reform Music from 1890 Until Present: A Study of the Changing Hymnals,” in Lawrence Hoffman and Janet Walton, eds., Two Liturgical Traditions: Sacred Sound and Social Change in Judaism and Christianity, Notre Dame, 1992

Current and Future Courses
Shabbat contemporary workshop
Life cycle contemporary workshop
The Cantor and the Congregational Voice
Cantillation
Advanced Recitative
Cantorial coach
Life Cycle music for the Rabbi
Composition
Director of Cantorial Practicum
Tefillah advisor (with Merri Lovinger Arian)
Public Lecture Topics
How Music Speaks; The Prayer within the Song. The role of music in the expression of our spiritual selves.
"Shavat vayinafash" The ordinary yet wondrous gift of Shabbat
The Indomitable Spirit Sings Itself Between the Words. Jewish music tells our stories through many forms: chant, Biblical trope, cantorial recitative, folk song, choral music, Shabbat and seder melodies. How are our personal and collective stories told and re-told through music? How do we sing praise to God, request forgiveness, grief, hope or love? We will analyze how music “sings” life into sacred texts.
"Azamra L'elohai B'odee" - Singing to God with all that I have ~ from the broken and empty as well as the whole and complete parts of ourselves.
Life Song Cycle – A Musical Reflection upon the Journey of Life.
Living “In Tune” – Five Places of Awareness of from our rabbinic tradition, designed to bring a sense of the sacred into one’s life.
Izzun Tefillah – To Listen with Reverence A study of the phenomenon of the niggun as a vehicle for communal prayer and sacred expression.
The Torah of Musical Prayer – The meaning behind the notes Jews sing. The magic and mystery of Jewish sacred melody.
The “Nusach” of Shabbat Familiar and new, folk and classical, formal and informal; the music of the time and space of Shabbat.