Since 1992 Shmuel Barzilai is Chief Cantor of the Vienna Jewish Community. He performs every Friday night with the City Temple choir and on Shabbat morning also with the children's choir "The Vienna Jewish Boys".
His repertoire includes liturgical cantoral music, Jewish soul music, Hassidic and Klezmer music, Israeli and classical songs, as well as opera arias.
Barzilai was born in Jerusalem in a family of renowned cantors. He studied at the Israel Yeshivot in Israel and received his basic cantoral education from the Viennese Cantor Zalman Polak and Moshe Stern. He graduated from the Institute of Music and Cantoral Singing in Tel Aviv and majored in philosophy and Judaic studies at the University of Vienna where he received his Master’s degree.
Shmuel Barzilai performs in the most significant concert halls worldwide, for instance Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna, Mozarteum and Landestheater in Salzburg, Prinzregententheater in Munich, Tonhalle in Zurich, Heichal ha Tarbut in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem Theater, NGV (National Gallery Vicrtoria” in Melbourne), Opera Houses in Belgrad, Bratislava and Kosice and many more. Additionally, he sang with philharmonic and symphonic orchestras throughout Europe, Israel and the U.S.A. Solo performances in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Austria, Hungary, France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Romania and at the Klezmer Festival in Safed mark his international career. Barzilai also looks back on numerous television appearances in Austria and abroad. Among the highlights of his career are certainly the singing of the prayer "El Maleh Rachamim" accompanied by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the legendary memorial service "Mauthausen 2000" and his performance at the UN in New York on January 27, 2014, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust.
His versatile skills are documented on several CDs he has recorded, like compositions of the world-famous Cantor Salomon Sulzer (1804 – 1890) with the Vienna Boys Choir in February 2000. He additionally released five other CDs – “Sound of Prayer”, “Song and Prayer”, “A New Light”, “Areshet Sefateinu” and “Shma Israel” featuring cantoral and popular music, accompanied by the “S.F.Y. Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir”, conducted by Mordechai Sobol. His profound musical and religious knowledge is best demonstrated in his book “Chassidic Ecstasy in Music” published in 2007.
On 4th of July 2017 Shmuel Barzilai was awarded the “Golden Badge of Honour for services to the Republic of Austria” by Thomas Drozda, Minister of Culture. The minister paid tribute to the fact that Chief Cantor Barzilai has represented Jewish culture in Austria and has been an ambassador for the Republic of Austria for decades. On March 2018 Shmuel Barzilai was furthermore awarded the “Golden Badge of Honour for services to the city of Vienna.”
For more information, please visit: https://www.shmuelbarzilai.com/