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To frame the evening, performances by the Choir of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation, of traditional Sephardi settings (many of them available on their CD A Sephardi Celebration, available via the link below) provided a warm and lively ambience. The introductory selection, Lecha Dodi (the Sabbath Evening hymn), Esa Ngenai ('I lift up mine eyes', Psalm 121) and Haringu (Psalm 100), displayed some elegantly melismatic singing by Adam Musikant who effected well graduated dynamics, heightening the expressive meaning of the texts.

Choir of Spanish and Portuguese Congregation led by Adam Musikant, Director of Music at the Sephardi Centre, with Miriam Kramer, violin, and Gemma Rosefield, cello, performing at Bevis Marks
Choir of Spanish and Portuguese Congregation led by Adam Musikant, Director of Music at the Sephardi Centre, with Miriam Kramer, violin, and Gemma Rosefield, cello, performing at Bevis Marks

The closing selection included Halleluya, a jazzy 'Amen', De Sola's Adon Olam with Maurice Martin, the choir's regular musical director, as soloist and, with Daniel Halfon and his son Mordecai, and to the added volume of a participating audience, the concert ended with a suitably rousing rendition of Bendigamus, a hymn of praise in Ladino set to a traditional, ancient Sephardi melody. Together with the inaugural lighting, by the Rabbi Elia of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation, of a newly sculpted silver Chanukiah (Candle Holder for the Festival of Lights) by silversmith Eiran Davies, a member of the community, modelled on the original synagogue architecture, the concert was a signal way to conclude an exhilarating and moving occasion that offered an enriching tribute to a landmark in Jewish and world history, coloured by an optimistic note of hope for future promise.

New Chanukiah by silversmith Eiran Davies
New Chanukiah by silversmith Eiran Davies

 

Copyright © 4 January 2007 Malcolm Miller, London UK

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SEPHARDI MUSIC

DANIEL HALFON

THE JEWISH EAST END OF LONDON

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