Sparks of the Divine Again September 30, 2013 Growing up in a cantorial home, it was one of my greatest delights to sit at the kitchen or dining room table with my beloved father of blessed memory, Cantor Theodore Katchko, and listen to him record prayers for me. It was mostly during my first year as cantor at Cong. Beth El in Norwalk, in l980=1981 that I asked my father to record many parts of the services, especially as they came up in my first year there. My father was a willing teacher and I was the grateful student. He loved putting his art of hazzanut on the little tape recorder and I soaked it all up. After seeing these old cassette tapes in my drawers and moving them from place to place, I realized they could be of help to other cantors, cantorial students and lay leaders. My father had the perfect balance of Katchko training from his father, the master teacher and composer, Cantor Adolph Katchko, and a gentle manner. His voice reflected the deep reverence for the music and the liturgy that I often feel is hard to teach cantors today. You have to hear it over and over- you have to internalize these sounds or they will be lost. Finally, two years ago I walked into a recording studio with a box of cassette tapes of my father recorded over 30 years ago. The wonderful recording engineer put all of them on cds and gave them to me to listen to and notate what was what, what order it should be in, the sources, etc.. That was about two years ago. The cds have been sitting on my desk for some time. I looked at them every day. I just couldn’t bring myself to hear my sweet father’s voice and relive those tender moments of learning knowing he has been gone since 1997. This month was his Yartzeit, and I realized I just had to begin this project before I lost all motivation. Today is also the 85th birthday of my mentor and inspiration, Prof. Elie Wiesel. I had wanted to sing for his birthday, but that was not to be. Working on my father’s music was a good use of my time today, I had just put the first cd in when I got a call from an oil company asking to update my email. When I gave my email address, the young woman said that her sister was a cantor! What a coincidence- she was a graduate of Hebrew Union College where my grandfather’s music has been part of the core curriculum for nusach- Jewish modes used in worship. It is the backbone of every cantor’s repertoire. Sometimes it feels like a nudge from above- this was the right time to begin. This project is on its way, and I look forward to sharing it as it nears completion. Thanks for the nudge- I needed it!