Friday, February 08, 2013
Benzion Miller (Bobov Chazzan)
Chazzonus has enjoyed varying levels of popularity over the years among American Jewry but within the Chassidic community its allure has never wavered.
You can hear some of his recordings on the Lowell Milken Archive Collection. Today, in addition to his position as cantor at the Young Israel Beth-El of Boro Park, Cantor Miller appears at performances throughout the world. He is at home performing any type of music including operatic works, Jewish liturgy and Chassidic folk music. He has performed with the Israel Philharmonic, the Jerusalem Symphony, the Haifa Symphony and the Barcelona Symphony and continues to appear regularly at the court of the Bobov Rebbe.
The chazzonus of Benzion Miller, a Bobov Chossid, is a case in point.
Benzion Miller is a scion of a well-known Chassidic family which traces its roots in chazzonus back many centuries within the court of the Bobover Rebbe. Benzion's father, Aaron, a chazzan himself and the son of a chazzan, survived the Nazis and immigrated to New York where Benzion was born. Benzion was educated in the Bobov community in New York where he sang solo with the Bobov boys choir but his incredible voice was first noticed outside of the Bobov community when he traveled to study. Benzion's voice was recognized by the well-known chazzan Shmuel Taube and, while still in his teens, Benzion traveled to Montreal to study music theory and solfege with Cantor Taube along with voice production studies at the Champagne School for Music. Benzion's mentors, aside from his own father and Cantor Taube, included Allan Bowers, Dr. Puggell and the renowned Cantor Avshalom Zfira.
When Cantor Miller returned to America he accepted non-Bobov-affiliated posts, first at the Hillside Jewish Center in Hillside, New Jersey and then in various locations throughout Canada and New York. His heart, however, has always remained firmly planted within the Bobov community and he continues to record Chassidic liturgy, much of it in the authentic Bobov tradition including music created after World War II by the Bobover Rebbe in America. Other recordings include Yiddish music and Benzion's own compositions.