Throughout Temple Emanu-El’s 164 year history many new liturgical works were commissioned and premiered. Cantor Howard Nevison respected this tradition and felt a tremendous responsibility and commitment to maintain this musical heritage.
A few years prior Cantor Howard Nevison’s appointment at Emanu-El , he became friendly with the American composer Martin Kalmanoff. Mr. Kalmanoff composed operas, songs, and several Jewish thematic works. Cantor Howard Nevison recalled hearing one of his songs sung on the old Firestone Hour. It was Kalmanoff’s version of Psalm 23.  Cantor Nevison was smitten by the beauty and majesty of the song and decided to pay home to it to it by adding it to his repertoire.
Every singer makes an tiresome attempt to find music that fits the individual voice. Cantor Nevison recalls,” this wonderful version of Psalm 23 fit me like a glove.”  Kalmanoff’s version of Psalm 23 was one of the songs I sang for my audition at Temple Emanu-El and since then has continued to bring me luck”.   Cantor Nevison had a second sense that this kind of music would be suitable as a “Sacred Service” realizing that the American melodic style of Kalmanoff was exactly what he was looking for. Cantor Nevison approached Kalmanoff with a special inquiry to find out if he would be interested in writing a Sabbath Evening and Morning Service for the Temple. Kalmanoff  considered the length of the work and thus, accepted the great challenge.
At the time there were 2 major works of Sacred Service for the Synagogue, one by Darius Milhaud and the other by Ernest Bloch. Cantor Nevison had performed the Bloch and wanted a work written in a similar style by an American composer. Kalmanoff recognized that Cantor Nevison had specific ideas about the work, so he invited him to his studio to collaborate on this new creation. The work was scored for Baritone Cantor, Chorus and Orchestra similar in length to the  Bloch.
Cantor Nevison helped to orchestrate the music leading Kalmanoff into areas that he might not have gone. After working together for nearly a year the score was finished. The length of the work is over 1 hour and 30 minutes. It was dubbed  THE JOY OF PRAYER.
Martin Kalmanoff and Cantor Howard Nevison
The world premiere performance was scheduled on March 10, 1982. There was a great deal of publicity and we were optimistic about the outcome. The Temple Emanu-El Sanctuary has 2500 seats; two thousand on the lower level and five hundred in the balconys. Cantor Nevison recalls,”When I came out onto the altar I couldn’t believe my eyes. Every seat in the sanctuary was taken.” I was surrounded by a one hundred vocal choir and  full compliment of the American Symphony Orchestra, with Kalmanoff at the podium.
However  to make matters more difficult, outside on 5th avenue the Greek Independence Day Parade was going on at the same time. Fortunately the Temple security ensured that they stop performing as they passed in front of the sanctuary. “Exactly how the audience managed to file into the Temple with the parade going on outside was simply amazing, but I guess that they were determined to be at this world premiere,” claims Nevison.
The commission and world premiere of Kalmanoff’s JOY OF PRAYER is one of Cantor Howard Nevison’s fondest memories of his career as Cantor and Music Director of Congregation Emanu-El of New York City.
Cantor Howard Nevison commissions Kalmanoff Joy Of Prayer Cantor Nevison performs World Premiere, Howard Nevison Teacher Howard Nevison Opera Singer Cantor Howard Nevison
Howard Nevison, the Opera Singer began his formal vocal studies of opera with the late Tilly Barmach at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Nevison at the time, was just 16 years old. Tilly Barmach served as a wonderful inspiration for the young baritone, having had a successful career in her own right. Barmach held an opera workshop at the school that Howard Nevison, the young student, attended every week. He was introduced to many of the standard operas and performed them in class.
This experience was the beginning of the pathway for Howard Nevison the young student to become a great Opera singer. There was a young budding opera company which had it’s roots in south Philadelphia, quite close to the Settlement Music School, called the Rittenhouse Opera Society. Tilly Barmach became friendly with the General Manager and Conductor, Marco Farnese.

Il TabarroIl Tabarro

Rittenhouse was mounting a new production of the rarely heard I Zingari (The Gypsies) by Leoncavallo. Farnese was looking for a young baritone who could sing the role of Tamar, (a gypsy lover and poet). This was a great opportunity for Nevison therefore he discussed the idea with Barmach and she immediately suggested her young pupil Howard Nevison. “Farnese gave her the score and told her to teach me the first act aria. The music fit my voice like a glove and the following week I sang it for Farnese. He instantly offered me the role and thus began my first professional engagement in the world of opera at the age of 19.
The Saturday performance was dedicated to the memory of Mario Lanza which was attended by his mother Mary.” The Opera, I Zingari has the passion and beauty of I Pagliacci and is very similar in style. One could probably compare the role of Tamar to Silvio in Pagliacci.” I sang during 3 performances of I Zingari and received my first Philadelphia review by the well known critic, Max de Schauensee who penned  “Howard Nevison displayed an ample baritone voice of excellent quality as the wandering gypsy-poet Tamar”.
The Rittenhouse Opera Society, being a small company, concentrated primarily on performing obscure operas. The operas Howard Nevison performed with The Rittenhouse Opera Society included, I Zingari, L’Arlesiana by Cilea, The Jewels of The Madonna by Wolf-Ferrari, Le Villi (Puccini’s first opera), La Boheme and Il Tabarro.” Having sung with many talented colleagues, The Rittenhouse was a most valuable introduction to the world of opera.”
Howard Nevison  & The Rittenhouse Opera Society, Howard Nevison the student, Howard Nevison’s debut in I Zingari, Howard Nevison sings with Rittenhouse Opera Society, Howard Nevison the Cantor, Howard Nevison the Opera Singer, Howrd Nevison the Teacher.
Posted by: howardnevision | November 25, 2009

Howard Nevison The Opera Singer Performs As Marcello in La Boheme

Howard Nevison Opera Singer sang in many operas during his career. Of all the operas that he sang none of them could equal his performances as Marcello in La Boheme. Over his distinguished career Howard Nevison Opera Singer was heard in the role of Marcello in La Boheme in 63 performances. “Although Puccini never wrote an aria for Marcello it was still one of my favorite rolls”. “I fell in love with the character, his loyal support to the other Bohemians’, his sympathetic friendship to the lovers Mimi and Rudolfo and the beautiful music so sensitively composed by Giacomo Puccini”.
Without a doubt Puccinis’ La Boheme is probably the most famous and most performed Italian opera of the 20th century. When Puccini got the idea to write his Boheme he realized that Ruggero Leoncavallo had composed it years before. As a young student he approached Leoncavallo and ask permission from the Maestro if he could borrow the story and write his on version. Well the rest is history. The Leoncavallo Boheme is rarely heard. In many ways the Puccini score is probably one of the finest operas ever composed. “Several years ago I was engaged to sing in the Leoncavallo version in a New York premier. It was a succesful performance but it could not compare to the Puccini”. “Even though I sang Marcello so often I always found something new in each production.
Posted by: howardnevision | November 24, 2009

Howard Nevison Sings Rigoletto

As I have mentioned previously most of the opera performances in Israel were given in the Main Theatre in Tel Aviv. However occasionally we took our show on the road. Howard Nevison the Opera Singer recalls his first performance of Rigoletto was given in a small theatre in Nazareth. The bus ride through the mountains was very beautiful, but dangerous. The bus was stopped twice by Israeli troops checking for bombs. The war was still going on and this type of stoppage was very common for security purposes. Needless to say we arrived in Nazareth all in one piece.
I was very exited to sing my first Rigoletto, and was not surprised by a very large audience. Saturday evening (after the Sabbath) was always an exciting time to perform. The opera began without any hitches, and the first act went very well. The second act however, was a bit unusual. I had just finished singing the demanding aria (Cortigiani, vil razza dannata) When I sang my next line to Marullo and the chorus. To my great surprise they sang back to me in HEBREW. Naturally for a second I was in a state of shock but I carried on without missing a beat. As I  found out later the company from their beginning sang all of their operas in Hebrew. Only 15 years before my arrival had they begun performing all the operas in the original language. It seemed odd to me that only the second act chorus of Rigoletto was in Hebrew. They never bothered to learn the Italian version. I suppose if a rehearsal with the chorus had been scheduled I would have not been totally surprised. Unfortunatly there wern’t many rehearsals with the chorus due to the heavy schedule of performances. Before the beginning of the third act I visited the chorus dressing room to find out what happened. I looked at the chorus scores and sure enough the notes were going left to right, and the words under the notes were going right to left.
An amazing discovery for Howard Nevison the Opera Singer. The bus ride back to Tel Aviv was uneventfull except for the troops who said hello for the third time that day.
Cantor Howard Nevison’s Road To Congregation Emaunu-El of New York City
Looking back in time, Cantor Howard Nevison’s Road to Congregation Emaunu-El of New York City is a story worth telling. The story of Cantor Nevison tells the life and road of a single man’s passion and journey to become a Cantor.  This journey is told here in a story about Cantor Howard Nevison’s life and also can be seen in Cantor Howard Nevison’s photo gallery.
In 1977 when my wife, Fern Nevison and I were residents of Brooklyn. I was the Cantor of a small shul in Brooklyn, New York called Progressive Shareh Zedek. My wife and I read in the New York Times, that a Cantor of long standing at Congregation Emanu-El in New York had recently passed away in summer 1977. Congregation Emanu-El in New York had world famous reputation as Jewish Temple, therefore I was certain that many of my colleagues were applying for the position.
The first thought that crossed my mind, was this certainly would be an opportunity of a life time – to land a Cantorial position of this level of importance at Congregation Emanu-El. At first Cantor Howard Nevison was reluctant because he figured the politics in landing this position would certainly play into the candidates who eventually were chosen.
Cantor Nevison sent Congregation Emanu-El his resume and a recorded tape of his vocal repertoire, which was required as part of the interview process. Congregation Emanu-El contacted me about 3 weeks later, informing me that that I had passed the first round of the interview process and that I would eventually be invited to sing before the Rabbi’s and the Music Committee. I was simply thrilled at both the honor and opportunity to have made it through Congregation Emanu-El’s first part of the interview process.
Congregation Emanu-El then decided not to hold auditions for one-year after the death of the prior Cantor, out of respect for him and the Jewish tradition. It was not until February of 1978 that Cantor Howard Nevison had his first audition. “The winter of 1978 was a brutal one” recalls Nevison. That aside, I was determined even in the chill of the New York winter cold to venture outside to every audition that Congregation Emanu-El requested I attend.
I eventually carried on with 3 auditions for Congregation Emanu-El and ironically every time I arrived to sing it was during a heavy and bleak New York City snow storm. At that point I named myself, Snow Cantor Nevison. During one of my auditions at Congregation Emanu-El, I was given a list of cantorial pieces to prepare and was also asked to sing a composition of my own.
Although it was freezing cold outside, Congregation Emanu-El’s sanctuary did not hold the promise of being much warmed. As a result of severe oil shortage the sanctuary of Congregation Emanu-El was not heated. There I stood, all prepped in my suit and tie, standing in the Cantor’s pulpit about to sing an audition in the chilled sanctuary.
To give you an idea of how cold Congregation Emanu-El’s sanctuary was, I noticed that as I began to sing  smoke came pipping out of my mouth in white rings.  After the audition at Congregation Emanu-El was complete, I had the fortune to be interviewed in a much warmer room and tea was also served.
One of the members of the committee noticed that I was shivering and asked, “Cantor Howard Nevison, are you always so nervous.” I replied, “I’m not nervous I am freezing!” Whenever a Cantor, Opera Singer or Vocalist sings, the energy creates perspiration and when you are cold that perspiration makes you even colder.
I was asked to sing as part of the audition, two more times at Congregation Emanu-El during the month of March 1978. Each time I sang at Congregation Emanu-El it involved at least an hour interview and the last time I sung I was invited to lunch with the current Rabbis.
Cantor Howard Nevison felt like he was being interviewed for a partnership in a law firm. It turned out that I was the 96th Cantor to audition for the position at Congregation Emanu-El out of 97 they chose to interview. The Committee had traveled around the world, to find the right Cantor for this very important, historic position. In addition to a Cantor, Congregation Emanu-El  needed a person who had an astute musical background and formal training to also be the Music Director for the Temple.
As a Curtis Institute graduate Cantor Howard Nevison had the necessary skills and experience Congregation Emanu-El was looking for within this new found Cantorial position. And as luck had it, Cantor Howard Nevison became the seventh Cantor in the 133 year history of the congregation on June 1, 1978.  The next 28 years for Cantor Howard Nevison was filled with joy, creativity and a huge feeling of accomplishment. One of the Music Committee members commented to me after I started work there, “just think we traveled around the world looking for a Cantor, and all along you, Cantor Howard Nevison were right in our backyard; of Brooklyn.”
Cantor Howard Nevison at Congregation Emaunu-El, Congregation of Emaunu-El of New York, Cantor Howard Nevison’s road to become a Cantor, Cantor Howard Nevison in Brooklyn, Cantor Howard Nevison, Howard Nevision the Opera Singer, Howard Nevision the Teacher

Cantor Howard Nevison Performs For Pope John Paul at the Vatican’s Holocaust Memorial

Cantor Howard Nevison performed in a special concert to commemorate the Holocaust. “You don’t have to be  Catholic to feel moved by being blessed by the Pope”, says Cantor Howard Nevison.” Cantor Howard Nevison performed along with the Royal London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vatican’s Capelle Guilia Choir before the Pope in observance of Yom Hashoah in Rome in April 1994.


This landmark event left its mark on Cantor Howard Nevison, a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music. “The opportunity to perform in Hebrew with an Italian Christian choir before 7000 people, the Pope and 150 survivors of the Holocaust in attendance, was an incredible thing,” marveled Cantor Nevison.

The idea of the Holocaust Memorial concert was totally Pope John Paul’s idea. Cantor Nevison was made to feel welcome at the Vatican. Cantor Nevison said to the Pope, “it’s a true pleasure to sing here in Hebrew.” Then the Pope put his right arm on Cantor Nevison’s shoulder and said, “God has kissed your vocal chords.”  I almost melted, said Cantor Nevison!! ”

From the standpoint of artistic performance, it was the highlight of my career,” said Cantor Nevison. “To be part of history is something I shall never forget.”  A tape and CD is currently available of the Pope John Paul Vatican Holocaust Memorial concert and is titled “New York Cantor Nevison Sings For Pope John Paul at Vatacian, Historic experience.”

New York Cantor Nevison Sings For Pope John Paul at Vatacian, Howard Nevison graduate of Curtis Institute of  Music, Royal London Philharmonic Orchestra, Cantor Howard Nevison, Howard Nevison the Opera Singer, Howard Nevison the Teacher.

Papal Concert to Commemorate the Holocaust CDPapal Concert to Commemorate the Holocaust CD

To purchase the CD “The Papal Concert To Commemorate the Holocaust” featuring Howard Nevision (Artist),Lynn Harrell (Artist), Ludwig van Beethoven (Artist), Leonard Bernstein (Artist), Max Bruch (Artist),  Franz Schubert  (Artist), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Artist), Gilbert Levine (Artist), Richard Dreyfuss (Artist) visit

Cantor Howard Nevision, Cantor Nevison performs for Pope John Paul, New York Cantor Howard Nevison Sings for Pope John at Vatican, Royal London Philharmonic, Howard Nevision the Cantor, Howard Nevison the Opera Singer, Howard Nevison the Teacher

Posted by: howardnevision | October 16, 2009

Cantor Howard Nevison, The Life of an Opera Singer, Cantor & Teacher

Cantor Howard Nevison, The Life of an Opera Singer, Cantor & Teacher

Welcome to the Howard Nevison blog. We invite you to learn more about Howard Nevison and his life as an Opera Singer, Cantor & Teacher. Here is our first post for you to enjoy.

Howard Nevison’s secret to juggling three careers as a Cantor, Opera Singer & Teacher.  


As a graduate of the Curtis Institute I became a well rounded musician and fell in love with singing opera.  I was fortunate enough to be raised by two grandfathers’ who were both Cantors. That enabled me to sing opera and read music before I learned my ABC’s.

Teaching voice and repertoire has been an extension of my life’s work as a cantor and opera singer. To help mold young talented people who want to be a cantor, opera singer or teach has been a very gratifying experience.  

Here are Cantor Howard Nevison’s three secrets to juggling a multi-fascinated career as a Cantor, Opera Singer and Teacher:

#1. Dedication to working to maintain the highest quality of teaching and performance.

#2.  A commitment to hard work with a positive attitude and not allowing disappointments to take you off the path.

#3.  A love for all music and the profession.

Howard Nevison career secrets, Howard Nevison teaching voice and repertoire, Howard Nevison gradutate of Curtis Institute, Cantor Howard Nevison, Howard Nevison the Opera Singer, Howard Nevison the Teacher