Cantor Sholom Kalib, Ph.D., D. Mus., was born in Dallas, Texas to immigrant parents from the western Ukraine. Kalib's father, himself a son and younger brother of cantors in Russia, provided Kalib with a rich early childhood background in the traditions and sanctity of synagogue music. This background facilitated Kalib's serving as a baal k'ria and child chazzan from his youth, and learning to read and write music while still a pre-adolescent. Dallas newspapers from the time tout the "wonder child cantor," and "young geni...blessed by G-d with a wonderf... voice, extraordinary sweetness, and the natural feeling of a pulpit artist." After his bar-mitzvah, Kalib's family moved to Chicago, where he attended the Chicago Jewish Academy and later the Hebrew Theological Seminary.
Kalib began conducting synagogue choirs at age 14, and at age 20 assumed his first position as a yearly cantor. During the 1950's, he taught chazzanim privately as well as in the Jewish Music Institute of the College of Jewish Studies, forerunner of the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies of Chicago. It was also during this period that he conducted the 25-voice choral ensemble of the Cantors Association of Chicago.
The close associations formed between Kalib during his adolescence and young adulthood, and a number of the leading cantors in the Chicago area at that time, helped to facilitate the gradual accrual of a significant library of cantorial and synagogue-choral repertoire, and to a decisive deepening of Kalib's exposure to and knowledge of the synagogue tradition as a whole.
Dr. Kalib has been a member of the Cantors Assembly since 1956, and served as chazzan in Chicago-area synagogues from 1949-1964, and in Detroit from 1969-2000. Additionally, he has served as choral director and music director in various synagogues and schools in the Chicago and Detroit areas.
Dr. Kalib acquired his advanced musical education in Chicago universities, completing his Ph.D. in Music Theory at Northwestern University in 1973. His dissertation, entitled "Thirteen Essays from Das Meisterwerk in der Musik by Heinrich Schenker: An Annotated Translation," has been widely used as a textbook in graduate and undergraduate courses in Music Theory throughout the country. He is Professor Emeritus of Music Theory and Literature, Eastern Michigan University, where he taught from 1969-1999.
Kalib is the author of The Musical Tradition of the Eastern European Synagogue-Volume One, winner of the 2003 Tuttleman Foundation Book Award of Gratz College, and plaudits from scholars in Jewish music across the United States, Israel, and beyond. Volume Two of the anthology was released in 2005. Kalib also compiled and edited six published volumes of synagogue music from within the Eastern European tradition by two pre-eminent Chicago Cantors: four by Todros Greenberg and two by Joshua Lind, all of which were published between 1961 and 1978.
Kalib has written two concert services commissioned by the Beth Abraham Youth Chorale of Dayton, Ohio, Cantor Jerome B. Kopmar, founder and conductor. They are the High Holy Day-based Days of Awe, and the Sabbath-based Day of Rest. Selections from the Day of Rest were recorded for the Milken Archive by the Vienna Boys' Choir with Cantor Naftoli Hershtik, of the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem, a portion of which was aired on NPR's Morning Edition.
Kalib is the recipient of The Bernard L. Maas Foundation Prize for Achievement in Jewish Culture and Continuity/Humanities for 2002, The Cantors Assembly Samuel Rosenbaum Award for Scholarship and Creativity for 2001, and many other awards for work on The Musical Tradition of the Eastern European Synagogue.