Cantor Jay O’Brien is a skilled and versatile musician whose interfaith background and observant Jewish upbringing make him a unique and compelling voice within Jewish American clergy.
With a fine tenor voice equally at home in operatic and popular singing styles, Cantor O’Brien appeals to Jews of many different demographics and denominations through his fusion of traditional, contemporary, folk, and classical musical genres in Jewish worship and communal life. He is also a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, piano, ukulele, violin) whose extensive professional experience includes camp songleading, choral conducting, bandleading, as well as score editing and arranging. Additionally, Cantor O’Brien is an award winning composer of contemporary Jewish music, whose liturgically based compositions can be heard in Jewish communities across North America.
O’Brien holds a bachelor’s degree in Music and the Humanities from Washington University in St. Louis, and he recently earned cantorial ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music.
While earning his ordination, O’Brien served four years as the cantorial intern of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York City. Prior to his cantorial studies, he served as the Cantorial Soloist of the Conservative synagogue Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel (BSKI) in St. Louis for two years. Additionally, he spent six summers on the senior staff of Camp Ben Frankel in Carbondale, Illinois where he served as Songleader, Director of Jewish Learning, Community Spiritual Leader, and Guitar Teacher.
Jay was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Growing up in a Conservative Jewish household, he regularly attended services and Hebrew school at Traditional Congregation in St. Louis. At the age of fourteen Jay began the study of Jewish liturgy and traditional musical modes (nusach) with noted mentor Cantor Edward Fogel, z”l.
A message from Cantor O’Brien:
“Throughout my personal journey and professional training, I have served Jewish communities across many denominational lines- Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox, and non-affiliated communities. These eclectic experiences, combined with my own interfaith background, give me a profound openness to Jews of every background, age, and modes of practice or affiliation.”
“Music has that rare ability to strengthen our communal bonds and enrich our individual spiritual lives. My goals as the cantor of Congregation Solel are to create innovative musical programs for congregants of all ages, to facilitate lively and participatory services within the Religious School and greater community, and to contribute to the synagogue’s vibrant culture of choral singing.”
Email Cantor O’Brien or call (847) 433-3555 ext. 223