Fineman's Got a Brand-New Bag... As The Door Revolves... The Show Must Go One
Thursday, June 28, 2001
Coming Soon To a Synagogue Near You: Alisa Fineman's got a new gig with Congregation Beth Israel.Fineman's Got a Brand-New Bag... Alisa Fineman's new post as cantorial soloist for Congregation Beth Israel won't slow down any of her other musical pursuits. In fact, she says, the liturgical gig complements her secular music.
"I fulfill the needs of bringing music to the congregation," says Fineman. "Music always connects us to the higher part of ourselves. It helps us get to another level, it transports us to that place where we can connect with something meaningful. My music sort of does that anyway."
Longtime locals will remember that singer/songwriter Fineman first began making appearances about a dozen years ago, when she came down from her fire lookout post in Big Sur. From the very beginning, we were impressed with the sincerity of Fineman's music, which resonated so well with her offstage personality.
People elsewhere thought so, too. She was picked as the Kerrville New-Folk Winner in 1991, went on some national tours, and released a couple of well-received albums, Cup of Kindness and Better With Time. But since 1995, Fineman's been keeping a somewhat lower profile.
"I had to step back and ask myself what I was really doing," she says. "Something wasn't working for me and I didn't want to waste my time or other people's time, so I just sort of stepped off the treadmill. I wanted to live my life so I had something to write about."
Fineman now lives with her partner, fellow musician Kimball Hurd, in Aromas, and has limited her touring to about a week a month. (She's appearing at the Kate Wolf Festival in Laytonville this weekend, and she's performing at Kerrville this fall.) It's a schedule that fits in well with her three gigs per month at Congregation Beth Israel.
As cantorial soloist, Fineman says, her job is to help people get involved in the chanting of prayers during the synagogue's services. "My job is to lead people in the music of the prayers," she says. "If I do it well, I get all the people singing with me. I think it really complements what I do. It's going to be a beautiful blending."
Fineman describes Beth Israel as a "warm, wonderful reform congregation. And the public is always welcome." And if you want to know when Fineman is singing you can call 624-2015.
As The Door Revolves... Last month, The Western Stage announced that Tom Humphrey, the theater company's managing artistic director since 1985, was calling it quits and moving to Greensboro to take over as the head of the drama department at the University of North Carolina. This came only a few months after Harvey Landa retired from his post as the Western Stage's executive director late last year. Now comes word from the Western Stage that managing director Alan Harrison is leaving at the end of this month to take over a similar post with the Alabama Shakespeare Company in Montgomery, Ala. All the personnel changes at the Western Stage gives new life to the old baseball saying, "You can't tell the players without a program."
The Show Must Go On... Despite the changes in upper-level management, the Western Stage not only has its current season to finish, it also has a couple of special outreach projects in the works. As of now, the Western Stage is looking for actors to take roles in its Steinbeck Alive program and for readers to become part of the Steinbeck Centennial Players. For the "Alive" program, actors will develop 15-minute, Steinbeck-based solo presenta- tions that will tour to schools and other functions. These are paying gigs. The "Centennial" series is a sequence of readings that will dovetail with various offerings at the National Steinbeck Center from September of this year through September 2002. For more info on either program, call Jeff Heyer at 755-6929.
--Chuck Thurman (firstname.lastname@example.org)