Cantor Linda Baer
Jewish Woman Of Song
Cantor Linda Baer was appointed cantor for Congregation Shalom Aleichem in Columbia, Maryland in 2008. "I first felt the calling to be a cantor as a child leading services in Junior Congregation in my parents’ synagogue. Some thirty years later, I was asked to compose a song in honor of a friend's conversion to Judaism. That one song has become many, as I found myself on a joyous path leading me back to the music of our people. I am both treasure-seeker and composer in the making of sacred Jewish music; I seek to balance my love for the tradition with my desire to create new music as an expression of faith. Serving as a cantor for Shalom Aleichem has been a beautiful homecoming for me."
In recent years, "Cantor Linda" as she like to be called, found herself looking back in musical time, and inward, to the very heart of Jewish music—in songs of the etl, kibbutz, and casbah. It is from this fertile ground of Yiddish and Ladino folksong and the traditional Hebrew liturgy that Linda creates her most recent works, often using an approach to composition she calls "Music Midrash." In "Music Midrash," the melody and other musical structures of the song underscore the meaning of the stories in the Torah and other sacred Jewish texts.
In addition to her English language songs about Jewish immigrant life and Biblical figures, Cantor Linda has also composed a collection of settings for the Shabbat liturgy, the psalms, and songs for the Jewish holidays. Many of her Jewish songs can be heard on her upcoming CD, "The Children of Miriam." Cantor Linda accompanies her singing with guitar, piano, banjo and Celtic Harp, often in counterpoint to the vocal melody.
Cantor Linda has also performed in concert for many synagogues and Jewish groups in the mid-Atlantic region, including Beth Tfiloh and Beth El Congregations in Baltimore, Temple Beth Shalom in Harrisburg and the Baltimore Jewish Festival. She served as cantor for Congregations Beit Tikvah in Baltimore, and Congregation Hevrat Shalom in Gaithersburg before coming to Shalom Aleichem. In 2004 she composed new song cycle based on the midrashim of the Exodus, designed and illustrated the Haggadah, and co-led Beth El Congregation's Women's Seder, "Women of the Exodus." Cantor Linda has achieved national recognition as a Jewish woman of song as a finalist in the 1995 National Jewish Songwriting Competition sponsored by the American Commission for Jewish Music.
"One of my most favorite things to do is interfaith outreach." To this end, she has teamed up with friend the Reverend Sandra Rushing, (Presbyterian Church, U.S. A.) to co-lead services for Christian congregations in order to deepen their appreciation of the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. Cantor Linda developed and taught "Judaism 101" course for Rev. Rushing's congregations in Maryland and Virginia. She was the featured musical artist for the Chatauqua Series at Harrisburg JCC, a co-presenter with Rev. Dr. Louis Hamann on the three Abrahamic faiths. Cantor Linda is also interested in creating a partnership with Moslem women to promote interfaith understanding.
Cantor Linda enjoys working with the young and old alike—she currently serves as the music teacher for Congregation Shalom Aleichem and likes to tutor with Bnei Mitzvah students. She also performs music therapy programs for senior citizens, including the residents of the Jewish Convalescent Home of Baltimore, Lorien, and Vantage House here in Columbia.
Throughout her life, Linda Baer has pursued her twin passions of art and music. When she is not singing, Linda enjoys working as a visual artist; combining the calligraphy of sacred Jewish texts with the imagery in her watercolor paintings and ceramic Jewish ritual objects.
Since the early 1980's Cantor Linda has performed in concert as a singer songwriter throughout the Midatlantic region. Credits include the Baltimore Folk Festival, the Coffeehouse at Mays Chapel, the Mid-Atlantic Guitar Festival, Baldwin Station, the Philadelphia Folksong Society's Songwriter's Series, the Folklore Society of Greater Washington's Mini Festival, and the Baltimore Artists Celebrating Peace. She released her first album, "Stones of Auguste" in 1993. The title cut, so-named for the sculptor Auguste Rodin, is a tribute to the artist and the women who inspired him. Linda's music has been featured on WAMU's Music Americana Showcase, WBJC, WJHU and WETA public radio stations, the Detour Program on WTMD, and Maryland Public Television.
Cantor Linda Baer attended the Maalot Seminary in Rockville, Maryland as a candidate for the Cantorial Certification Program. She received her B.S. Ed., in Foreign Language Education, from the University of Delaware in June 1976. Cantor Linda studied voice and piano at Peabody Preparatory Division of the Peabody Conservatory and the visual arts at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Cantor Linda is currently a Federal employee, and looks forward to her upcoming retirement when she can fully engage in artistic and musical projects and expand her role as cantor and teacher for Congregation Shalom Aleichem. She lives in Columbia with her husband, John Rudesill, a retired chemical engineer who is active on the "Green Team" for the Columbia Jewish Congregation.