More about Cantor Geoffrey Fine

Greetings Temple Beth David! Cantor Fine here. I know so little about you all, and vise-versa. Therefore, here’s my life story in a few paragraphs. I am so looking forward to hearing your stories soon. Whether at services, in the hallway on the fly, or at one of the many events during the year, let’s connect and get to know each other. See you soon!

I grew up in Rockville, Maryland, and was always passionate about music. I began playing piano and violin and singing at an early age (my grandfather, z’’l, was a concert pianist and my mother was the assistant concertmistress with the Miami Symphony Orchestra). I grew up in a conservative temple called B’nai Israel where I first heard the sweet voice of our chazzan, Robert Kieval. At temple, I sang in junior and then adult choir, and with the Cantor during services. Throughout high school, I sang in numerous synagogue choirs, at the local Hebrew Home for the Aged, in a barbershop quartet (we were state champions in high school!), in musicals at the J.C.C. and in summer dinner theater, and in large and small professional choral groups throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C.

I received my Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the Eastman School of Music. Further musical studies continued at the Tanglewood Summer Music Center. While at Eastman, I spent my Sunday mornings at a local Reform synagogue, where I would lead a service and do a fun drash. The kids loved it, especially since those who could answer my questions about the drash received extra cookies! For three summers, I performed at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA in a Broadway show, an Italian Opera show, and an 8 person close- harmony show with a live band. We’d get 500-3000 people at each show! Great memories!

After college, I returned to Maryland to work with a teacher named Todd Duncan, who was the original Porgy in Porgy and Bess. While in Washington I made my living singing: in the quartet at my home synagogue, with Kennedy Center Productions, Washington Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Washington Jewish Players, and at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. I even sang a radio commercial for the National Football League (ask me about it!).

Todd Duncan moved to Boston and I went along. However, he moved on to Julliard, and I settled nicely into my new adopted home. In Boston, I met my husband (of 21 years) Dr. Joel Hencken. We live in Watertown with our Bichon Frise named Kugl.

My jobs in Boston included working at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health/HIV-AIDS bureau and singing with the vocal quartet at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, Shminiyah (a Boston-based Cantors’ ensemble), Il Concerto di Salamone Rossi Hebreo, Boston Lyric Opera (and Opera Theater of St. Louis in the summers),and Boston Baroque. I’ve been a soloist with the Newton and Somerville Choral Societies, Zamir Chorale of Boston, and the Orpheus Singers (18 person acapella group that sings works of the Renaissance through Modern times. I also perform a one-man show, A Journey Through Broadway: The Jewish Composers, which is an informative/performative look at these great artists. I bring the show to nursing homes, retirement homes, and memory units. And, if all goes well, I might perform it for you at a Temple Beth David Fundraiser in the near future!

After many years of singing around Boston, my friend and now colleague Cantor Jodi Sufrin, urged me to apply to Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. After a year in Israel and three years in New York City, I was Ordained as Cantor and received a Master of Sacred Music Degree in 1998 from the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. After ordination, I served at Beth El Temple Center in Belmont for 18 years.

Being a Cantor fills me up… it allows me to support people in all the sacred moments of their lives, to introduce a community to the beautiful tapestry of Jewish music and prayer from our many traditions, historical and modern; and to be part of a journey with a community that is continually shaping their own Jewish experiences and identity.

Thank you for inviting me on this journey with you. I am looking forward to our sacred time together.

 

B’Shalom,

Cantor Geoff Fine