Biography

Complete Bio:

Classical baritone performer & composer Cantor Erik Contzius boasts more than two-dozen high-profile live performances around the globe, alongside numerous recorded works and original compositions. The New York Times praised his “potent narrative,” while he has garnered high praise from JazzTimes, The Arty Semite, Catholic New York, The Jewish Press of Omaha and Metroland. His setting of Psalm 116 in Hebrew & Latin, in fact, premiered at the Vatican. Contzius’ musical template is an idyllic reflection of his relationship with the Divine.

His passion for music ranges from Hazzanut (cantorial art music) and Yiddish folk songs to Opera and Broadway melodies; while his original published compositions reflect a spiritual journey:  The Travelers’ Prayer, Hineh Ma Tov, and Shalom Rav (all published by Transcontinental Music Publications), and And Hannah Prayed—which was selected for The Third International Festival of New Jewish Liturgical Music, sponsored by Shalshelet. Contzius’ original compositions and voice have also been featured on such recorded works as Teach My Lips a Blessing: The Music of Erik Contzius, recorded with the Amor Artis Chamber Choir; as well as his solo collection for cantor and pipe organ interpretations, How Excellent is Thy Name. He also appeared as a soloist on the recording Celebrate Chanukah with the Westminster Choir College’s Youth Chorale.

Cantor Contzius has been an internationally featured soloist, performing: The Fantasticks as El Gallo with Embark|Peekskill, Britten’s Noye’s Fludde as Noye with the Westchester Chorale (Larchmont, NY), Further Definitions of the Days of Awe with the Afro-Semitic Experience (NYC), Mozart’s Requiem with Varna International (Israel), Darius Milhaud’s Service Sacré as well as Mario Castelnuovo Tedesco’s Memorial Service with the Westchester Chorale, Ernest Bloch’s Sacred Service (Avodat Hakodesh) with the Menno Singers (Ontario) and with The Songs of Life Festival (Bulgaria & Jerusalem), Handel’s Israel in Egypt with the Westchester Chorale (New Rochelle, NY), Vergessene Musik—The Forgotten Music of the German Jewish Reform Movement (Münich), Concert: Let Freedom Sing (Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.), and in the International Organ Festival of Göteborg (Sweden).

Cantor Contzius earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at Rutgers College, then studied abroad at the University of York, England. He received his Master of Sacred Music degree from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, School of Sacred Music, studying in Israel and New York City. His vocal training is ongoing, having worked under the tutelage of Tom Lomonaco, Carlos Serrano, David Adams, Dr. Donald Roberts and Richard Slade. Cantor Contzius is a member of the American Conference of Cantors. He resides in Peekskill, N.Y., with his wife Monica and their son Jacob.


Secular Performance Bio

Classical baritone Erik Contzius boasts more than two-dozen high-profile live performances around the globe, alongside numerous recorded works. The New York Times praised his “potent narrative,” while he has garnered high praise from JazzTimes, The Arty Semite, Catholic New York, The Jewish Press of Omaha and Metroland. Contzius has been an internationally featured soloist, performing: Schoenberg’s Kol Nidrei (Opus 39) at the Bard Music Festival, Noye’s Fludde (as Noye) with the Westchester Chorale (Larchmont, NY), Charles Osborne’s Souls on Fire (Brooklyn, NY), Mozart’s Requiem with Varna International (Israel), Darius Milhaud’s Service Sacré with the Westchester Chorale, Ernest Bloch’s Sacred Service (Avodat Hakodesh) with the Menno Singers (Ontario) and with The Songs of Life Festival (Bulgaria & Jerusalem), Handel’s Israel in Egypt with the Westchester Chorale (New Rochelle, NY), Vergessene Musik—The Forgotten Music of the German Jewish Reform Movement (Münich), Concert: Let Freedom Sing (Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.), and in the International Organ Festival of Göteborg (Sweden).

Contzius is a featured soloist on several recordings, including on Further Definitions of the Days of Awe with the Afro-Semitic ExperienceTeach My Lips a Blessing: The Music of Erik Contzius, recorded with the Amor Artis Chamber Choir, as well as his solo collection for cantor and pipe organ interpretations, How Excellent is Thy Name. He also appears as soloist on the recording Celebrate Chanukah with the Westminster Choir College’s Youth Chorale. His vocal training is ongoing, having worked under the tutelage of Tom Lomonaco, Carlos Serrano, David Adams, Dr. Donald Roberts and Richard Slade.

In addition to his classical repertoire, Contzius also is an active member of the Westchester Chordsmen, the premiere Barbershop Chorus of the tri-state area, and performs regularly with his quartet, 29 Seconds.


Composer Bio

Cantor Erik Contzius (1968- ) earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at Rutgers College, then studied abroad at the University of York, England. He received his Master of Sacred Music degree from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, School of Sacred Music, studying in Israel and New York City.

Contzius models his composition style after the likes of Bonia Shur, Abraham Levitt, Ben Steinberg, Robbie Solomon, and Joseph Myerov, combining elements of traditional Jewish modes & motifs with the sounds of modern classical music. His noted works published by Transcontinental Music include: The Travelers’ Prayer, Hineh Mah Tov, and Shalom Rav.

His piece And Hannah Prayed was selected for The Third International Festival of New Jewish Liturgical Music, sponsored by Shalshelet. His setting of Psalm 116 (Mah Ashiv Ladonai—quid retribuam Domino) was composed specifically for the occasion of the American Conference of Cantors’ mission to the Vatican as a part of the Second Annual Jewish Catholic Dialogue where it enjoyed its premiere.

Many of Cantor Contzius’ compositions are featured on the recording Teach My Lips a Blessing, with the Amor Artis Chamber Choir.

Erik resides with his family in Westchester County, New York.

 

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About Me

Cantor Erik Contzius is a versatile baritone, a creative composer, and a dynamic performer. His Jewish repertoire is eclectic, ranging from the highly classical (performing the Ernest Bloch "Sacred Service" in Bulgaria, Canada, and Israel) to traditional hazzanut (appearing on the stage of the Stardust Ballroom at Kutsher's Hotel in the Catskills), to dynamic vocal jazz (touring with the Afro-Semitic Experience!). Cantor Contzius' compositions have been performed by cantors and choirs across the United States and can be heard on his album, "Teach My Lips a Blessing."
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