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Richard Botton

Cantor Emeritus

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Cantor Richard Botton, with a rich Sephardic background and breadth of musical and liturgical innovation, served as cantor of Central Synagogue for nearly a quarter century. He was ordained and graduated with honors from the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City, and holds a master’s degree from Adelphi University. In November 1998, Cantor Botton received a doctor of music degree from Hebrew Union College.

Well schooled in secular music, he has appeared as soloist for major orchestras and choruses, performing Ernest Bloch’s “Sacred Service,” and Leonard Bernstein’s “Dybbuk.” A first prize regional Metropolitan Opera Auditions winner, Cantor Botton has performed opera nationally, mostly of Jewish content on the operatic stage (Lazar Weiner’s “The Golem,” and Frederick Piket’s “Isaac Levi”).

In 1974, Cantor Botton was called to the pulpit of Central Synagogue after distinguishing himself as a musical innovator, having commissioned musical and multimedia dramatic works for use in worship. In 1967, he commissioned the first complete published Jewish worship service in the jazz idiom which was televised nationally on CBS. During his tenure at Central Synagogue, he collaborated musically with the renowned Jazz Ministry of St. Peter’s Church in New York City.

Cantor Botton served The American Conference of Cantors as both President and Director of Placement. He was awarded Reform Jewish educator status by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now URJ) for his extensive work with children, particularly those with learning disabilities.

Cantor Botton now performs a lecture and concert about his Sephardic background, entitled “Living Ladino.” There is also an album with many of the songs he sings from his childhood sold internationally by the same name.


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