ACC honorary member, Dr. Ben Steinberg, z’l

We are sorry to inform you of the death of Guild of Temple Musicians member and honorary American Conference of Cantors member, Dr. Ben Steinberg, z’l, on Friday, February 10, 2023.

Dr. Steinberg was born in Winnipeg, Canada, and received his education at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto. He is well known across Canada and the U.S. for his lecture-recitals on Jewish music history and style.

He conducted and lectured at numerous congregations as Scholar-in-Residence and in such places as Israel, Hong Kong, Australia and Japan. He was an inspiring teacher, working for many years as the director of the music program at Forest Hill Collegiate.

A professional composer of both sacred and secular music, Ben is perhaps the most widely commissioned composer of Jewish music worldwide. His works have been published in the U.S., Canada and Israel; these include Shabbat services, choral and orchestral settings, instrumental and vocal chamber music as well as solo works.

Ben has been honored by the major institutions and each musical organization of the Reform movement.

In 1990, in an effort to replenish the numbers of aging composers of serious Jewish Music at the time, as well as emphasize the importance of traditional, adult music in worship services, created “The GTM Young Composer’s Award.” The project, which encouraged young Jewish composers to produce fully realized solo and choral works for the synagogue and bring a new generation of classically trained creative musicians into the field of Jewish music, has produced many beautiful works from gifted young composers and attracted a number of these composers to become active contributors to synagogue music.

The Award continues to grow in stature and currently offers a $2,500 prize to the winner and the opportunity to premiere his/her new work at the ACC/GTM Convention during the year of their win. Dr. Steinberg was head juror and administrator of the YCA for its first 20 years, until 2010 when he handed over the reins to David Shukiar, a two time winner of the Award. The current chair of the Ben Steinberg Young Composer's Award committee is Dr. Alan Mason.

On Dec. 6, 2001, the Reform movement (then called the UAHC) presented him with its highest honor — the ‘Eisendrath Bearer of Light’ award. He also has the distinction of having been twice honored by the City of Jerusalem to be an Artist-in-Residence at its creative retreat.

Other honors include the International Gabriel Award for Broadcast Excellence, the Kavod Award of the Cantors’ Assembly, the inaugural Guild of Temple Musicians’ Shomer Shirah Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Council for Reform Judaism, Honorary Membership in the American Conference of Cantors, and an Honorary Doctorate from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. My undergrad alma mater, the University of Calgary has established a Ben Steinberg Archive to house his original manuscripts, scores, and papers.

Ben's accomplishments and accolades are innumerable. He will be widely remembered and deeply missed.