Cantor Phil Baron is the son of a violinist and the grandson of a Vilna rabbi. This combination of influences should have led him immediately into the world of Jewish music. Instead, he first took a successful detour into children’s entertainment, where he had over 300 original songs recorded -- nearly 200 of these by the Walt Disney Company. In addition, he has been the voice of such loveable characters as “Piglet” and “Teddy Ruxpin.”
Eventually his strong Jewish roots started to pull him in a new direction. He co-created two television series for Jewish children, “Bubbe’s Boarding House,” and the multiple award-winning series “Alef…Bet…Blast-off!” In the mid-1990s he became a frequent cantorial soloist at Valley Beth Shalom, eventually helping to create the very successful ShabbosFest monthly service. In 2001, Cantor Baron entered the Academy for Jewish Religion where he studied with esteemed hazzanim Nathan Lam, Don Gurney, Perryne Anker, Benyamin Glickman and Joseph Gole. In 2005, he received his cantorial ordination as well as a Masters degree in Jewish Sacred Music, while simultaneously serving as Cantor for Congregation Beth Shalom in Santa Clarita, California.
In 2005 he joined the clergy staff at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California. In addition to his cantorial duties at VBS, Cantor Baron has also written many settings for the liturgy. In 2011 his interest in developing new works for the synagogue led him to found and direct the Helfman Institute, a composers group dedicated to creating new synagogue music. The group has now written over 40 pieces and is currently developing a major new work in partnership with the recently endowed UCLA Mickey Katz Chair in Jewish Music.
Cantor Baron is currently part of the clergy cohort of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, an on-going project to study and embody the sacred teachings of the Chassidic masters, with an emphasis on meditation, prayer and mindful living.