Shores reunite, and it sounds so good
The husband-and-wife singing team of Ira and Rita Shore doesn’t perform too often as a duo anymore. But when they do – as they will tonight in a benefit event for the Aspen Jewish Congregation – it inevitably takes them back 46 years, when the two had their first rehearsal for their first gig.It was 1960, at the Spring Lake Hotel, the northernmost spot in the Jewish-centric summer retreat known as the Catskills, in upstate New York. Bronx native Rita Meyer, a vocal student at Juilliard, was booked as the entertainment; Ira was her pianist. The sparks commenced instantly.”He was the best accompanist I ever had. He breathed with me. He knew every phrase I sang,” Rita said by phone from the couple’s Brush Creek home. (Ira, listening in on the conversation, chimes in that this is the first time he ever heard such a compliment.) “I felt I was never going to get another accompanist as good. So I married him.”The two married in 1963, and became a singing duo, playing the Catskills, New York and Ira’s native South Florida. In 1977, the Shores relocated to Aspen, where they opened the Allegro School of Music and appeared together in Aspen Community Theatre’s “Fiddler on the Roof.” Rita also became the first cantor for the Aspen Jewish Congregation. After a few years, Rita was offered a cantor’s position in Miami, and the Shores traded the mountains for the ocean. But they didn’t trade singing partners; into the ’90s, the two appeared regularly as a duo.A decade ago, increasingly busy as a cantor, Rita gave Ira her notice that she would no longer be performing with him. Ira carried on with a solo act. Over the last several years, the reunion performances – billed as the Shore Family Singers, which includes the Shores’ two daughters and a granddaughter – have been special events at Florida synagogues.”We do a lot of fighting when we rehearse,” said Rita. “But we have a lot of fun when we perform.”A year ago, the Shores returned to Aspen, with Rita taking the cantor’s job again with the Aspen Jewish Congregation. Tonight’s concert at the Aspen Chapel, “Magical Moments,” will be a trip back to the Catskills of the early ’60s. And they are expecting to bring the audience with them. The program includes old Broadway tunes, opera arias in French and Italian, Hasidic and cantorial songs, and more.”It’s kind of nostalgic for us, to get together and do it again,” Rita said. “And I think these songs are nostalgic for the audience, too.””Magical Moments: The Flip Side of Cantor Rita and Ira Shore” takes place tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Aspen Chapel. For tickets and more information, call 925-8245.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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