The Zemel Choir | Celebrate With Song

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Celebrate With Song

by The Zemel Choir

Celebrate with Song-a collection of some of the music that has proved most popular with our audiences over the years. This is the lighter side of the Zemel Choir's repertoire, with texts written in a mixture of Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino and English.
Genre: World: Yiddish
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Yom Zeh L' Yisrael/yismach Moshe
5:06 $0.99
2. Lebn Zol Columbus
3:07 $0.99
3. A Nign
3:18 $0.99
4. Ken Bakodesh
1:36 $0.99
5. Tsvei Brivelach
3:43 $0.99
6. Ai Di Di Di Dai
2:28 $0.99
7. Avinu Malkeinu
3:10 $0.99
8. Eli Eli
2:19 $0.99
9. Hava Nagila
2:06 $0.99
10. Shir Tsiltsulim
2:29 $0.99
11. Uri Tsafon
2:14 $0.99
12. Dayenu
1:47 $0.99
13. Adio Kerida
2:38 $0.99
14. Durme Durme
2:29 $0.99
15. Adon Olam
2:18 $0.99
16. Havdoloh
4:23 $0.99
17. Kiddush
4:03 $0.99
18. Sh'hecheyonu
2:39 $0.99
19. I Have A Little Dreydl
2:41 $0.99
20. Chad Gadyo
2:55 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
There are Yiddish theatre tunes, Israeli folksongs and settings of Jewish liturgy, as well as a jazzed-up Chanukah song. We hope that there will be something for everyone. Enjoy listening.

Benjamin Wolf – Musical Director, The Zemel Choir

The Zemel Choir, established by Dudley Cohen in 1955, is proud of its international reputation as one of the world’s finest mixed voice Jewish choirs. Our wide ranging repertoire embraces all the traditional Jewish cultures, Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Yiddish and Israeli. We regularly perform in major venues throughout the U.K. and overseas, and besides singing well known favourites, are particularly proud to present new music, often specially commissioned, from contemporary composers.

In November 2005 the Choir celebrated its Golden Anniversary with a concert at St John’s, Smith Square

TV and Radio appearances include the 1986 live television and radio broadcast of Kaddish at Terezin from Canterbury Cathedral, the Expressions of Reconciliation and Hope service in York Minster in 1990, the special edition of Radio 4’s Sunday Worship in January 2001, when we were chosen to represent the British Jewish community as part of the Holocaust Day commemoration, and most recently, in participation in BBC1’s Songs of Praise, The Holocaust Remembered (January 2005).

Over the years we have made many recordings, the most recent of which – The English Tradition of Jewish Choral Music, conducted by Robert Max with cantor Moshe Haschel – was described by music critic Malcolm Miller as “a fascinating and beautifully performed selection of synagogue music fro the 19th and 20th centuries”.

We have travelled extensively to the U.S.A., Canada, Israel, and Eastern and Western Europe, and in 1993 participated in the Polish Holocaust Memorial ceremonies in Warsaw and Treblinka to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. At the 1996 Zimriyah Choral Festival in Jerusalem we were invited to sing at the opening ceremony concert which was broadcast live on Israel Radio.

Our latest overseas trip was in April 2007 when we made a most successful tour of Belgium, France and Luxembourg. Plans for 2008 include several concerts in and around London and beyond, a second ’Celebrate with Song’ event in June 2008 encompassing workshops and a concert. Outline plans are in place for a tour to Israel in 2009 and to the Eastern Coat of the USA in 2010.

The Choir has maintained its reputation as a result of professional musical direction, and a strong commitment to rehearsals by its members. We come together not only to sing, but to be part of a warm and friendly social group.

1) Yom Zeh l’Yisrael/Yismach Mosheh

Text: Sabbath liturgy
Music: Traditional Sephardic folk melodies
Arrangement: Joshua Jacobson
Performance language: Hebrew (Sephardi pronunciation)

Tenor: Robert Brody
Tof: Linda Brody

This is a musical collage of two traditional melodies from the Sephardi Jewish heritage. Jacobson created this composition for the celebrated (Sephardi-born) American cantor Alberto Mizrahi to sing with the Zamir Chorales of new York and Boston, and members of those two choirs gave this music its first UK performance in the summer of 1973, when returning through London from participating in that year’s Zimriyah choral festival in Israel. The Zemel choir uses this as finale or encore music for our concerts in the UK and overseas.

2) Lebn Zol Columbus

Text: Abraham Shomer
Music: Arnold Perlmutter and Herman Wohl
Arrangement: Cathy Rand/Joshua Jacobson
Performance language: Yiddish

Mezzo-soprano: Ann Sadan

America is a wonderful land, I tell you! No wars, no guns, no bloodshed, no czars, no tyrants! Ah, life’s good! So let’s all sing: “Long live Columbus!” Drink a toast my brothers! Long live Columbus for discovering the New World! Be happy! Pay no attention to the grumblers. Jews, let’s shout together, “Long live Columbus!”

This song is taken from the Yiddish comedy-musical “The Green Millionaire”, which opened in New York’s Tomashefsky Theater in February 1915, and typifies the sentiment of many Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who arrived in the USA and thought they had found their new Promised Land. (Of course, immigration was one thing, integration, quite another …).

The singer exhorts the rest of the cast to drink to the health of Columbus, who, after all, discovered The Americas and thus made the dream possible. The first verse is paraphrased above; the second, which is somewhat more risqué for the time, speaks of boys aplenty for the girls to date, thus dispensing once for all with the services of the good-for-nothing shadchan (matchmaker)!

As you listen, be prepared to hear snippets of various American patriotic songs quite deliberately woven into the music.

3) A Nign (Tshiri bim bam bam …)

Text: Traditional Hasidic folksong
Music: Lazar Weiner )
Arrangement: Joshua Jacobson
Performance Language: Yiddish

Mezzo-soprano: Ann Sadan

Once there was a poor man and all he could ever do was quarrel with God. But when he sang this tune only wonders and more wonders would befall him: Tshiri bim bam bam…

From this tune flowed wine, and he swallowed gulp after gulp. So when he sang this tune yet more wonders would befall him: Tshiri bim bam bam…

So as this poor little Jew sang, and sweetness flowed, he actually leapt for joy! So when he sang this tune yet more wonders would befall him: Tshiri bim bam bam…

This combination of folk melody and Yiddish lyric evokes the pathos of the lives of thousands of Jews from Eastern Europe over the centuries. Why quarrel with God? Simply because every believer, at some time or another, does so. What Hasidism achieved for these souls was a peace of mind, a contentment with what they had that, that was able to take the Jew out of himself and onto a spiritual plain far away from the oppression of daily life.

Lazar Weiner ranks as one of the foremost exponents of Yiddish folk music. Born in Cherkassy (Belarus) and trained at the Kiev Conservatory of Music, he came to the US in 1914 and was active in the Workmen’s Circle and also as music director of the Central Synagogue for over fifty years.

Three Hasidic Songs
4) Ken Bakodesh
5) Tsvei Brivelach
6) Ai di di di Dai

Text Traditional East European Jewish folksongs
Music Anonymous
Arrangement Gil Aldema (b. 1928)
Performance language: (1) Hebrew (Sephardi pronunciation)
(2) Russian/Yiddish

Soprano: Louise Barnett (Tracks 4 and 5)
Tenor: Robert Brody (Track 5)

Song (and dance) is central to Hasidic Judaism. Hasidism emphasises the spiritual highs (and lows) of the Jewish experience, and its early pioneers found a ready following among the downtrodden Jews of Poland, the Ukraine and the Carpathian Mountains, who bore the brunt of savage anti-Semitic pogroms of the mid-17th century.

These arrangements were made by Gil Aldema, one of Israel’s most notable choral arrangers, for the Israeli Zimriyah choral festival of 1974. As well as making an effective musical set (two brisk melodies with a slower, more contemplative song in between), the selection emphasises three significant facets of Hasidic musical culture. The first, Ken Bakodesh Chaziticha, is a Hebrew verse taken from Psalm 63 which speaks of the Jew’s desire for the closest possible sense of physical and spiritual encounter with his God. The second, Tzvei brivelach tzum Rebbn, addresses the pathos of the Jew in a more matter-of-fact way. We hear the dictation of two letters from an anonymous Jew to the great Rabbi Shne’ur Zalman of Lyadi – with his full address in Russian (for the Gentile postman to read) and the subject-matter in Yiddish. In the first, his life is a struggle, his business is failing and his wife is unwell, and he asks the great Rabbi Shne’ur Zalman to help him; in the second, he fares much better, he is making a living and his wife is really quite well again, thanks to the Rabbi for his influence in the matter. The melody, pace and pathos of the two letters is very much the same, though; physical and spiritual well-being are God’s property and the situation can change without warning. The third, Ai di di dai, is a nonsense verse. Many of the earliest followers of Hasidism were illiterate and unable to empathise with the core Jewish value of study. They gave themselves over to the worship of their God through the nigun, the original “song without words”.

7) Avinu Malkeinu

Text: Liturgy for Yom Kippur
Music: Max Janowski )
Performance Language: Hebrew (Sephardic pronunciation)

Tenor: Marc Finer

Our Father our King: hear our prayer; we have sinned before Thee; have mercy upon us and upon our children; inscribe us for blessing in the book of life; grant unto us a year of happiness.

The prayer Avinu Malkeinu is associated with several points in the Jewish calendar, though most notably Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is the climax of the Jewish new year and penitential season. It is of some antiquity: Rabbi Akiva (d. 138 CE) is recorded in the Talmud as having said this prayer routinely on all Jewish fast days. The oldest extant version (from the Siddur of Rav Amram Gaon, 9th century CE Babylonia) has 19 verses. Later versions vary, and some are of much greater length. But the context, as can be seen from the paraphrase above, is always pleading.

Max Janowski’s setting composed for use in the American Reform liturgy, has achieved fame within and beyond the Jewish world, through the recording released some years ago by Barbara Streisand. Janowski escaped his native Berlin via Japan and settled in the USA in 1937. He was a prodigious 20th century composer whose liturgical compositions have been performed in concert halls, synagogues, churches and colleges throughout the world. He served as music director, organist or choral director at several synagogues and churches in the Chicago area.

8) Eli Eli (Halicha l’Kesaria)

Text: Hannah Senesh
Music: David Zahavi
Arrangement: Anthony Saunders
Performance Language: Hebrew (Sephardi pronunciation)

Soprano: Angela Lawrence

My God: I pray that these things should endure forever: the sand; the sea; the sound of the waves; the thunder of the heavens; and the prayer of mankind.

Senesh was a European-born Zionist pioneer who came to Palestine and volunteered for hazardous missions behind German lines in occupied Europe. On one such, she was captured and killed. The poem set here represents (as its subtitle suggests) her thoughts while promenading along the Mediterranean coast near to Caesarea in northern Israel. This arrangement was made by the Choir’s third musical director, Anthony Saunders.

9) Hava Nagila

Text: A Z Idelsohn or Moshe Nathanson (disputed)
Music: Traditional chant of the Sadigora Chassidim
Arrangement: Daniel Faktori )
Performance language: Hebrew (Sephardi pronunciation)

Let’s rejoice and celebrate; let’s make merry; stir yourselves, brothers, with a glad heart!

This must be one of Israel’s best-known folksongs (indeed, it was one of several plausible candidates for the country’s national anthem in 1948). But the melody is much older. Abraham Zvi Idelsohn notates it twice in his Thesaurus of Hebrew and Oriental Melodies: Vol. IX No. 716 represents it with the words we know; and in Vol. X No 155 we find it without words and marked as a Sadigora/Krilovich melody (i.e. from the Sadigora Chassidim of what is now NW Romania). Idelsohn first published it in 1915 and in a choral arrangement three years later.

The origin of the words is disputed. Idelsohn claims them for himself; however, one of his students, Moshe Nathanson, who studied in Mandate Palestine prior to having a distinguished career in Jewish music in the USA, is a rival claimant.

This is an extremely popular arrangement for mixed chorus, and was made by Daniel Faktori, a young pupil of the father of Israeli classical and art music, Paul Ben Haim. Faktori’s untimely death at the age of 25 deprived the newly-formed State of Israel of a composer and arranger of great potential.

10) Shir Tziltzulim (The Song of the Bells)

Text: Y Mohar
Music: Moshe Wilensky )
Performance language: Hebrew (Sephardi pronunciation)

You might want to think of this as a “Jewish Jingle-bells”, but the bells here are not sleigh-bells. They are the bells that ring out around the golden hillsides of Bethlehem, as the shepherds return, ewes over their shoulders, driving the younger animals into the sheepfolds.

The song comes from an operetta, Shulamit, composed by Wilensky in 1957. His life-long musical accomplice, Shoshana Damari, took the title role.

11) Uri Tzafon

Text: Song of Songs 4:18
Music: Dov Carmel (b. 1932)
Arrangement: Yehezkel Braun (b. 1922)
Performance language: Hebrew (Sephardi pronunciation)

Stir yourself, North Wind, and come, South Wind, and may my garden be transformed and exude its fragrance. And may my beloved come into his garden and eat of its delicate fruits.

The Song of Songs, one of the oldest examples of love poetry known to the Western World, has been a source for a great many compositions for voice and choir originating in Israel and around the Jewish world. Indeed, so heady is the love poetry here that rabbinical wisdom for many centuries has understood the text as purely allegorical, alluding to the spiritual love affair between God and His People Israel. Rather than present an allegorical or interpretative translation here, we have chosen something closer to the literal meaning.

Dov Carmel, who created this melody, was born in Hungary but has been a member of Kibbutz Dalia in Israel since emigrating there in 1949. One can imagine that these words in particular would have been very meaningful for somebody nurtured in the midst of modern Israel’s agricultural economy. This arrangement by Yehezkel Braun dates from 1999. Braun is one of Israel’s foremost composers of choral music, and has a particular fondness for using biblical texts in his compositions and arrangements.

12) Dayenu

Text From the Passover Haggadah
Music Traditional, probably German 19th century
Arranged Dudley Cohen (b. 1931)
Performance language Hebrew (Sephardi pronunciation)

Had [God] brought us out of Egypt but not executed judgment against the Egyptians, it would have sufficed; had He executed judgment against them but not against their gods as well, it would have sufficed…

The Passover festival commences with a special evening meal and service in the home, the seder. Jews remember on this night the anniversary of the liberation of the Israelite slaves from Egypt and the birth of the nation of Israel. At about the mid-point in the seder, after the essential details of the Exodus have been retold, there is a chance to sing a merry song that builds up in stages the marvel of the Exodus, the events of the years in the wilderness and the entry into the Land of Israel. Had events stopped at any of these points, we (i.e. our forefathers) would have considered that everything up to that point would have been sufficient.

There is an arrangement of the well-known (and perhaps even hackneyed) Ashkenazi melody for Dayenu. Dudley Cohen, founder of the Zemel Choir back in 1954 and its musical director for its first 20 years, breathes new life into this tune with some clever adjustments to the rhythm of the chorus.

13) Adio Kerida

Text Traditional Judeo-Spanish folksong
Music From Addio del Passato (Verdi: La Traviata)
Arranged Roddy Skeaping
Performance Language Ladino

Goodbye my love. The day your mother bore you she did not give you the heart to love another.

Ladino (sometimes referred to by other names such as Spaniole and Judezmo) is the vernacular language of Jews descended from those expelled in 1492 from Spain. They settled communities all around the Mediterranean, from Morocco to the Levant to the Balkans. These communities, many of which have now vanished, created and perpetuated a great many songs in Ladino, which is based on medieval Spanish but has acquired a scattering of words in Hebrew, Turkish and other host culture languages. The Ladino-speaking Jews perpetuated a good many songs and verses dealing with the bitter-sweet nature of love, relationships, breaking up and starting again. Here, the singer spurns his lover, whose mother gave her no heart to love with, and sets himself ready to look elsewhere. There is no evidence that this verse has a specifically Jewish origin. However, following the expulsion from Spain in 1492, songs such as this, of unrequited love and of bitter and unworkable relationships, are thought to have struck a particular chord with the Ladino-speaking Jews, for whom Spain was at one and the same time the land they loved and the land whose people hated them. In later centuries, as some of the Judeo-Spanish diaspora communities were themselves forced to move on, this sentiment acquired a contemporary resonance.

In this instance, the melody may not be ‘traditional’ at all. It has some similarity with a tune from Verdi’s La Traviata, and may well have been ‘borrowed’ from there.

14) Durme Durme

Text: Traditional Judeo-Spanish lullaby
Music: Traditional
Arranged: Gil Aldema
Performance language: Ladino/Hebrew

Sleep, sleep, my beautiful maiden; Sleep, sleep without worry or pain. Your servant is here just to watch over you with total love as you dream.

Lullabies are particularly common in Ladino music. This Ladino text was first notated, though using a different melody, by Alberto Hemsi, the father of Judeo-Spanish folk music study, in Rhodes in 1922. In this arrangement, the Ladino words are followed by a modern Hebrew paraphrase. The arrangement was produced by Gil Aldema for the 1986 Zimriyah Israeli choral festival.

15) Adon Olam

Text: Solomon Ibn Gabirol (c 1021- c 1058)
Music: Benjamin Wolf
Performance Language: Hebrew (Sephardi pronunciation)

Tenor: Robert Brody

Lord of the Universe, who ruled before any thing was created, when all could be made as He pleased: then was his name proclaimed King.
And after everything has come to an end, He shall reign awesome and alone; for he always was and still is and He will remain in glory.
For He is One, and there is no other to compare or consort with Him; Without beginning and without end His is the power and the dominion.
He is my God and my living redeemer, my steadfast rock in time of trouble; He is my banner and my refuge, a cup of solace when I call.
Into His hand I commend my spirit while I sleep and when I awake; and even when my spirit fails The Lord is with me and I shall not fear.

Adon Olam is probably the best-known of Ibn Gabirol’s many hundreds of piyyutim (Hebrew liturgical poems). His version is several stanzas longer than the traditional 5-stanza version used in Ashkenazi synagogue worship. To most synagogue-goers, this is the familiar closing hymn for the Sabbath and festival morning service (and in many communities it is used for the Friday and festival evening service close as well). The Zemel Choir premiered this composition, by its current Musical Director, in its 2006-7 season. It is a light-hearted setting of the text, written as an answer/response between soloist and choir. There are references to other familiar settings of the Adon Olam, as well as some musical gestures familiar from popular music.

16) Havdoloh (Hineh Kel Y’shu’osi)

Text: Isaiah 12:2-3; Psalms 3:9, 46:8; Esther 8:16.
Music: Traditional melody
Arranged Zavel Zilberts )
Performance language: Hebrew (Ashkenazi pronunciation)

Tenor: Robert Brody

At the conclusion of the Jewish Sabbath, there is a short ceremony called Havdoloh, which literally means “separation”. A cup of wine is blessed, a plaited candle is lit, then its flame extinguished in a few drops of the wine, and a blessing is recited over fragrant spice as well. The spiritual glory and fragrance of the Sabbath is over, and the Jew must face a new week. Prior to reciting the blessings over the wine etc., a series of biblical verses, chosen for their sense of encouragement and faith in God, are recited.

The melody used here is traditional to the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe. A version was first notated by Abraham Baer in his Ba’al Tfilloh in 1877 (No. 427); Zilberts’s version of the melody appears in Volume 4 of Gershon Ephros’s Cantorial Anthology.

Zilberts was a cantor’s son born in Karlin, near Pinsk, in what is now Belarus. He became cantor of the main synagogue in Karlin on his father’s death, went to Warsaw to study music in 1899 and served two spells as conductor of the Hazomir Chorus in Lodz (1904-7 and ), moving to America in 1920, where for three decades he was a dominant force in cantorial composition, Yiddish and popular musical culture and as the founder-director of the Zilberts Choral Society.

17) Kiddush

Text: Friday evening synagogue service
Music: Kurt Weill )
Performance language: Hebrew (Sephardi pronunciation)

Tenor: Robert Brody

Blessed are You, Lord God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the Universe, who sanctified us with His commandments and desired us, and who granted us with love and desire His holy Sabbath. For this is the foremost day among all of those we call holy, in memory of the exodus from Egypt. For You chose us and sanctified us above all the other nations, and granted us through love and desire Your holy Sabbath. Blessed are You , Lord God, King of the Universe, who sanctifies the Sabbath. Amen.

Weill was one of several leading Jewish composers (others included Milhaud, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Leonard Bernstein) who were commissioned in the late 1940s to contribute compositions to an anthology entitled Synagogue Music by Contemporary Composers, edited by Cantor David Putterman of New York’s Park Avenue Synagogue and published in 1951. This piece was Weill’s contribution. The treatment here is very bluesy, and makes effective use of the interplay between synagogue cantor and accompanying choir. Weill’s 1946 version of the piece is dedicated to his father Albert, who was a cantor in Dessau, Germany.

18) Sh’hecheyonu

Text: Liturgy for Festivals and New Year
Music: Meyer Machtenberg )
Performance language: Hebrew (Ashkenazi pronunciation)

Tenor: Robert Brody

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has kept us alive and sustained us and brought us to this point.

This blessing, of Talmudic origin, is used to inaugurate all of the Jewish festivals: when kindling festival candles; when reciting the festival Kiddush prayer over wine; and during the evening festival service at the synagogue. Nothing is taken for granted in God’s world, and the advent of the next festival in the Jewish cycle, and of our reaching it healthy and ready to celebrate, calls for words of thanks and blessing. Machtenberg appreciated this, and created this very bouncy setting of these words, for cantor solo and choral accompaniment. He was born in Vilna, the son of a cantor, and came to America in his late teens. Not cut out for the cantorate himself, he achieved fame as a conductor of and composer for many a synagogue choir, as well as enjoying a period in collaboration with Oscar Hammerstein Senior in the operatic world. In 1921 he conducted the choir and arranged the music for the legendary performance of Cantor Gershon Sirota before an audience of 5,000 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House – an event that was considered his greatest achievement (to date) in a memoir of the American Cantors’ Association published in 1924. Sh’hecheyonu has a publication date of 1951. Although Jewish in conception and inspiration, there is more than a touch of Italian operetta about this music.

19) I have a Little Dreydl

Text Children’s Chanukah song (originally Yiddish)
Music Mikhl Gelbart (1889 – 1966)
Arranged Matthew Lazar
Performance Language English

Tenor: Marc Finer

Chanukah is the Jewish festival of light, celebrated each year for 8 days in late November or December. It has spawned numerous children’s songs, in Hebrew, Yiddish and, more recently, English. The playing of games, even games of chance, has become associated with Chanukah, and the principal game from olden days in Eastern Europe involved a four-faced spinning top, or dreydl. The faces are marked with the Hebrew letters nun, gimmel, heh and shin, with numerical values 50, 3, 5 and 300 respectively. Spin the dreydl, count up your total points and the one with the most wins: simple.

To accompany this rather basic game came the original and equally simple children’s song I have a little dreydl. This is actually a paraphrase of a Yiddish original, Ikh bin a kleyner dreydl. Matthew Lazar, probably the most influential person active in American Jewish choral singing over the past 30 years, has taken this and hyped it up into a choral party piece.

20) Chad Gad Yo

Text Passover Haggadah
Music Traditional
Arranged Abe Ellstein for Cantor Moishe Oysher )
Performance language Aramaic

Tenor: Robert Brody

Just a little kid that Dad bought for two farthings.

Along came a cat and ate the kid, that Dad bought for two farthings.

Along came water that quenched the fire, that burnt the stick, that beat the dog, that bit the cat, that ate the kid, that Dad bought for two farthings.

Along came the Holy One (blessed be He) and slew the Angel of Death, who slew the slaughterer, who slaughtered the bull, that drank the water, that quenched the fire, that burnt the stick, that beat the dog, that bit the cat, that ate the kid, that Dad bought for two farthings.

This is the final song in the Passover Haggadah. After all the seriousness of retelling the Passover story, the praise to God for His miracles and the legacy of Passover for us today, the consumption of a good meal that must include four full cups of wine, and a good deal else besides, what better way to end than with a Jewish equivalent of The house that Jack built? This simple song has a serious moral: start if you will with something so basic as a little kid that costs next to nothing, but it is all a part of a grand Divine purpose. One may question why a harmless little kid goat comes to grief in this way, but God will come through in the end.

This version was made famous by Cantor Moishe Oysher in 1940s America. Oysher, who emigrated to the USA, employed the scat-singing technique of his native Romania to considerable comic effect here.

Programme notes by Daniel Tunkel and Gary Tucker.

Musical Director

Benjamin Wolf studied at University College, Oxford, Trinity College of Music and King’s College, London. As orchestral conductor he has worked for the BBC Proms and performs regularly with The Wallace Ensemble, a young professional orchestra of which he is co-founder.

Activities with this orchestra have included a first CD, (recorded Summer 2007), a concert of Israeli/orchestral klezmer music at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the inaugural Wallace Ensemble composition prize. He has conducted for the BBC proms and participated in masterclasses with Benjamin Zander and the London Soloists Chamber Orchestra, with Kenneth Montgomery and the National Symphony Orchestra of Lithuania, and with Stephen Cleobury and the BBC Singers.

Since becoming Musical Director of The Zemel Choir he has performed at a number of major London venues, including the Queen Elizabeth Hall, St John’s, Smith Square, St James’ Church, Piccadilly and the Victoria and Albert Museum. In January 2005 he conducted The Zemel Choir in a special edition of the BBC’s Songs of Praise, and in November of the same year conducted them in their 50th anniversary concert at St John’s Smith Square. Recent engagements have included a concert at the Purcell Room, a European Tour and the Zemel Choir’s new festival, ’Celebrate with Song,’ at St. John’s, Smith Square. He is Musical Director of the Rushmoor Choir of Aldershot, and regularly conducts the Quorum Chamber Choir. For the past year he has been choirmaster at Belsize Square synagogue.

Increasingly active as a composer, his work Siren Song, (set to a text from Homer’s Odyssey), has recently been performed at Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Magdalen College, Oxford. Previous commissions include the incidental music for an adaptation of Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market at the Southwark Playhouse and for Frederic Lonsdale’s Canaries Sometime Sing (performed in London and France in 2003). He has written a number of pieces for the Zemel Choir, and his first piano concerto, L’Chaim was performed by the Wallace Ensemble in 2003.

As pianist, he performs regularly with a number of singers and instrumentalists, including tenor Marc Finer and mezzo-soprano Ruti Halvani. He has played for cantors Robert Brody, Avromi Freilich and Yitschak Meir Helfgott.

In addition to his work as a performer, he is currently studying for a PhD in the social history of twentieth-century music.


Michael began his musical career at the age of 16 as a trumpeter in the Grenadier Guards. He went on to study the piano at the Royal College of Music where he was awarded several prizes for conducting, composing and improvisation. He won a scholarship enabling him to continue his studies at the RCM as Repetiteur for the London Schools Opera whilst also becoming the first recipient of the Millennium Organ Scholarship at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea.

Michael is in demand as a choral conductor, accompanist and organist. He has performed at the Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Albert Hall and in cathedrals all over the country. In the course of his career he has toured extensively to the United States of America, the Far East and Europe.

Michael gave his debut recital as an organ recitalist in Westminster Abbey and has given recitals in many cathedrals and parish churches in the UK. He has made several broadcasts for BBC radio including a live broadcast for BBC World Service. Michael is Director of Music at St. John’s Wood Church in London where he conducts the Church’s critically acclaimed professional choir. He is also the Organist at Belsize Square Synagogue and is Musical Director of the Chiltern Choir. Michael’s choral compositions are published by Redemptorist Publications.


Ann Sadan studied with Esther Hulbert at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and later with Alison Truefitt of Welsh National Opera. She sang for some years with the Zemel choir, and for ten years with Quartissimo, a female barber shop quartet. She also sang with the Pro Musica Chorus of London, with whom she regularly travelled to France, Rome and Barcelona.

In 2006 Ann celebrated 25 years of conducting the choir of Edgware and District Reform Synagogue. Whilst in this role she has arranged various pieces of liturgical music, organised two children’s musicals and arranged music for and conducted an orchestra created to celebrate the synagogue’s 70th anniversary in 2005.

Ann currently teaches music at a school in Harrow, Middlesex and is an occasional soloist with the Zemel Choir, having made several recordings with them in the past as the Alto soloist. In April 2006, Ann was the Alto soloist in the UK premiere of Erich Zeisl’s Requiem Ebraicum, performed and recorded live at the North West London Reform Synagogue.


Robert Brody, ARCM, LRAM began his vocal studies at the Birmingham College of Music whilst he was a student at the University. On returning to London he continued at the Trinity College of Music and then with Benvenuto Finelli who introduced him to the Bel Canto vocal technique.

He has given recitals in London's leading venues, has recorded for RCA, EMI and the BBC, as well as his own recordings, which have achieved wide acclaim. He has often been heard on international radio and television.

Whilst enjoying performing secular music and oratorio, Robert Brody has also, on many occasions, been called on to act as Cantor in Synagogue Services throughout England, on the Continent, in Israel, Canada and the U.S.A. He recently conducted the Shabbat service at St Petersburg Great Choral Synagogue. At Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic he recorded Cantorial Music of the Ghetto for BBC TV and has conducted memorial services in Warsaw, at Auschwitz and Treblinka. Robert appeared with the Zemel Choir on BBC’s Songs of Praise – The Holocaust Remembered in January 2005.

Robert Brody has also recorded with the BBC Singers for a Radio 3 series Sacred and Profane and music by Louis Lewandowski with The Zemel Choir with whom he has often appeared as their principal soloist. With the Choir, he has sung in the presence of H.M. The Queen at the Royal Albert Hall. He has participated in choral festivals in many countries including the Eisteddfod and the Zimriyah in Israel.


Marc Finer first took a keen interest in singing at University College School, and he later sang in two chapel choirs and in the elite University Chamber Choir whilst reading geography at Girton College, Cambridge. In 2004 he was awarded the London Girton Association music award, given annually to a talented vocalist or instrumentalist. Marc remains the only singer ever to have won the award.

Marc is in regular demand as an oratorio soloist, and recent engagements include The Seasons (Wellingborough), Bach's St John Passion (Southwell Minster), Monteverdi Vespers (Derby Cathedral), Elijah (Alyth Choral Society) and the role of the Evangelist in Bach's St Matthew Passion (Nottingham).

Marc has given numerous solo concerts and recitals of English, French and German art-songs, operatic arias and songs from musical theatre. He sings in a male-voice sextet based in Nottingham, The Sheriff's Men, specialising in Renaissance polyphony and close harmony. He is the cantor at Edgware and District Reform Synagogue, and also acts regularly as cantor at Jewish weddings.

Although he spends a great deal of his time singing, Marc's full-time profession is as a trainee solicitor at international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.

Recorded 24 February, 2& 9 March 2008
The Theatre, Jewish Free School, London
Produced and engineered by - (James Watson, Tom Watson & Will Watson)
Assistant Producer - Maureen Creese, (The Zemel Choir, Assistant Music Director)

This recording is supported by a legacy from the late Martin Thei, a former chorister and chairman.

Celebrate With Song

1) Yom Zeh L’Yisrael (arr.Jacobson) 5:09
2) Lebn Zol Columbus (Perlmutter/Wohl/Shomer) 3:06
3) A Nign (Weiner arr.Jacobson) 3:20
4) Ken Bakodesh (arr.Aldema) 1:36
5) Tsvei Brivelach (arr.Aldema) 3:44
6) Ai di di di Dai (arr.Aldema) 2:29
7) Avinu Malkeinu (Janowski) 3:14
8) Eli Eli (Zahavi/Senesh arr.Saunders) 2:19
9) Hava Nagila (arr.Faktori) 2:07
10) Shir Tsiltsulim (Wilensky/Mohar) 2:30
11) Uri Tsafon (Carmel arr.Braun) 2:14
12) Dayenu (arr.Cohen) 1:46
13) Adio Kerida (arr.Skeaping) 2:38
14) Durme Durme (arr.Aldema) 2:29
15) Adon Olam (Wolf) 2:18
16) Havdoloh (Zilberts) 4:25
17) Kiddush (Weill) 4:03
18) Sh’hecheyonu (Machtenberg) 2:40
19) I have a little Dreydl (Gelbart arr.Lazar) 2:41
20) Chad Gad Yo (Ellstein/Oysher) 2:56

The Zemel Choir
Musical Director: Benjamin Wolf
Louise Barnett Soprano (Tracks 4/5)
Angela Lawrence Soprano (Track 8)
Ann Sadan Mezzo-Soprano (Tracks 2/3)
Robert Brody Tenor (Tracks 1, 5, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20)
Marc Finer Tenor (Tracks 7, 19)
Piano Mike Cayton (Tracks 1, 2, 3, 7, 13, 16, 17, 19)

Back Cover of CD Case

Celebrate With Song [Title]

1) Yom Zeh L’Yisrael (arr.Jacobson) 5:09
2) Lebn Zol Columbus (Perlmutter/Wohl/Shomer) 3:06
3) A Nign (Weiner arr.Jacobson) 3:20
4) Ken Bakodesh (arr.Aldema) 1:36
5) Tsvei Brivelach (arr.Aldema) 3:44
6) Ai di di di Dai (arr.Aldema) 2:29
7) Avinu Malkeinu (Janowski) 3:14
8) Eli Eli (Zahavi/Senesh arr.Saunders) 2:19
9) Hava Nagila (arr.Faktori) 2:07
10) Shir Tsiltsulim (Wilensky/Mohar) 2:30
11) Uri Tsafon (Carmel arr.Braun) 2:14
12) Dayenu (arr.Cohen) 1:46
13) Adio Kerida (arr.Skeaping) 2:38
14) Durme Durme (arr.Aldema) 2:29
15) Adon Olam (Wolf) 2:18
16) Havdoloh (Zilberts) 4:25
17) Kiddush (Weill) 4:03
18) Sh’hecheyonu (Machtenberg) 2:40
19) I have a little Dreydl (Gelbart arr.Lazar) 2:41
20) Chad Gad Yo (Ellstein/Oysher) 2:56

The Zemel Choir
Musical Director: Benjamin Wolf
Louise Barnett Soprano (Track 4)
Angela Lawrence Soprano (Track 8)
Ann Sadan Mezzo-Soprano (Tracks 2/3)
Robert Brody Tenor (Tracks 1, 5, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20)
Marc Finer Tenor (Tracks 7, 19)
Piano Michael Cayton (Tracks 1, 2, 3, 7, 13, 16, 17, 19)

Recorded 24 February, 2& 9 March 2008
The Theatre, Jewish Free School, London
Produced and engineered by - (James Watson, Tom Watson & Will Watson)
Assistant Producer - Maureen Creese, (The Zemel Choir, Assistant Music Director)

Celebrate with Song
The Zemel Choir
Conductor: Benjamin Wolf
Soloists: Robert Brody, Marc Finer, Ann Sadan
Piano: Michael Cayton

All rights of the manufacturer and of the owner of the recorded work reserved: unauthorised public performance, broadcasting and copying of this compact disc prohibited.
Copyright The Zemel Choir 2008



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