Born in South Africa, Paul Kowarsky became the boy soloist of the Berea Synagogue Choir in Johannesburg at the age of 9. Chazzen Shlomo Mandel was his mentor. He went on to study with Chazzen Leib Glantz at the Tel Aviv Cantorial Academy, and on his return to Johannesburg, while continuing his studies with Chazzen Mandel, he commenced his voice production studies with Francis Russell, with whom he continued to study for more than a decade. He also studied music at the University of South Africa and the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. While in Canada, he continued his voice production with Marlena Malas, leading vocal coach to the stars of the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York, and then in Toronto with the renowned Canadian Tenor, Mark DuBois for some 12 years.
He holds a Cantorial Qualification Diploma from the Cantors Assembly of America, A Master Cantor Certificate from the American Foundation for the Advancement of Cantorial Arts, and is an Honorary Fellow of the Cantors Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
In 1980 Paul Kowarsky was appointed Chazzen of the prestigious Beth Tzedec Synagogue in Toronto, the largest Conservative Congregation in North America. He held that position until his retirement as a full-time Chazzen in 2001.
Paul Kowarsky holds a Bachelor of Law Degree from the University of South Africa, where he was admitted as an Attorney of the Supreme Court in 1972. He practiced law until he immigrated to Canada in 1976, when he was appointed Chazzen of Congregation Beth Ora in Montreal. Thereafter, he served as Chazzen of the Adath Israel Congregation in Cincinnati, Ohio, until he moved to Toronto in 1980.
During his Cantorial career, Paul Kowarsky was considered one of the foremost Chazzanim in the world. The outstanding quality of his spinto tenor voice, coupled with his soul-stirring interpretation of traditional Cantorial liturgy, brought him the highest acclaim of his peers.
As Concert Artist, he attracted capacity crowds. Notable appearances before distinguished audiences throughout the world engendered enthusiastic praise for his professional artistry, charisma and showmanship.
In 1985, he appeared in a Yom Ha’atzmaut Concert in Cleveland, Ohio, entitled Great Cantors of the World in Concert. In 1987 he was selected to sing at the main concert in the Jerusalem Theatre during an international Convention of Chazzanim in Israel. In 1988 he represented the Jewish Community in singing at the Multi-faith Service held at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto. In 1989 he sang at the Toronto Community Reception in honour of Chaim Herzog, President of the State of Israel, and thereafter, he performed in a series of concerts in Los Angeles, California, entitled A Concert with Seven Outstanding Cantors of North America.
In 1989 Paul Kowarsky was chosen to perform in a series of concerts under the auspices of the American Society for the Advancement of Cantorial Arts. During this tour he sang at concerts in major cities of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Romania including Leningrad, Minsk, Odessa, Moscow, Belgrade and Bucharest. His concert tours took him also to the Logan Hall in London, England, and to the Canadian National Exhibition Concert entitled The Night of a Lifetime in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel.
During his Sabbatical in 1999-2000, Paul Kowarsky conducted services and performed in many parts of the world including Venice, Florence, Geneva, Budapest, Prague, Vilna and Kovno in Lithuania, Melbourne and Sydney in Australia and Auckland and Christchurch in New Zealand.
The Toronto Council of Chazzanim published two volumes of Paul Kowarsky’s musical compositions for Cantor and Choir entitled Synagogue Music for Cantor and Choir. Volume 1 was published in 1990 and Volume 2 in 1995. Through his emphasis on beautiful melodies, interwoven with traditional Cantorial Chants, Chazzen Kowarsky was able to synthesize the florid style of Eastern European Chazzanut with the melodic song-like style so much in vogue in today’s synagogue music. In this way, his music conveys and enhances the meaning of the sacred texts.
Paul Kowarsky released five CD’s entitled: Another Concert with Paul Kowarsky, Premier Performance, Creations in Rhythm, Live in Concert, and Live in South Africa.In addition, he released several teaching recordings for learning to conduct synagogue services and the Passover Seder.
In May 2002, Paul Kowarsky was appointed as a full-time presiding Justice of the Peace by Order-in Council of the Government of Ontario. He presides in the Criminal and Provincial Offences Courts in Toronto.
Paul Kowarsky resides in Toronto, Canada with his wife, Barbara Kowarsky (née Joseph). He is the proud father of his five children: Kim Doron (née Kowarsky), Glen, Lara Fritz (née Kowarsky), Daniel and Ryan, and his four grandchildren: Amir and Noam Doron, Dylan and Kylie Fritz.
Upon reaching the mandatory retirement age in October 2017, Paul Kowarsky retired after serving more than 15 years as a full time presiding Justice of the Peace in the Ontario Court of Justice.