Home About ECA Articles Reviews Newsletters Voice Of The Cantor Series 1 ECA Executive Contact us

Welcome to the website of the European Cantors Association


January to April 2024

Opening concert: New West End Synagogue Sunday 14 January, 5.55pm to 7.30pm
Mosaic Voices with Cantor Marc Joseph conducted by Michael Etherton

International concert: St John's Wood Synagogue Sunday 25 February, 7.00pm (doors open 6.15)
Cantors Netanel Herstik, Simon Cohen, Avraham Kirshenbaum
with the Neimah Singers conducted by Marc Temerlies accompanied by Raymond Goldstein.
Booking at www.shulinthewood.com/concert

Closing concert: Belsize Square Synagogue Sunday 14 April, 4.30pm *note time*
Synagogue Professional and Community Choirs plus the Zemel Choir conducted by Benjamin Wolf,
honouring former member, the late Henny Levin with Michael Cayton on the organ
Tickets £15 in advance office@synagogue.org.uk   

At a time of turmoil people often turn to music to soothe troubled souls.
And what better music to turn to than the music of prayer – music being able to powerfully lift the words soaring on high.

The celebration of synagogue music starts with a prestigious concert by Mosaic Voices at the New West End Synagogue this Sunday,
14th January and ends with a closing concert at Belsize Square Synagogue on Sunday 14 April,
with the Synagogue choirs plus the Zemel Choir.

In between, many UK synagogues are offering their communities and guests,
Shabbat services of sheer musical beauty as part of the
European Cantors Association ‘From Our Lips …’ Celebrating Synagogue Music project.

FESTIVAL BEGINS!

The UK wide festival celebrating synagogue music opened on 14th January with a spectacular concert at the New West End Synagogue, Bayswater.

The large audience was treated to the superb singing of their resident choir Mosaic Voices under the inspired baton of Michael Etherton.

We heard a completely new composition based on liturgy and history of the community, and some old favourite synagogue prayers with surprisingly familiar tunes.

Services will include these below. Guests are welcome. To attend please register with the synagogue administrator as below.

 
  • 19 January: Friday 6.45pm
    Belsize Square Synagogue
    (more about this shul, its musical traditions and the service here)
    Guest Cantor Yohel Heller, and Professional Choir conducted by Benjamin Wolf with organist Michael Cayton
    Repertoire mainly Sulzer and ‘Lewandowski with some modern surprises   
    Those wishing to attend, please email office@synagogue.org.uk

  • 26 January: Friday 6.45pm
    Belsize Square Synagogue
    (more about this shul, its musical traditions and the service here)
    Cantor Paul Heller, and Professional Choir conducted by Benjamin Wolf with organist Michael Cayton
    Special service for Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath of Song
    Those wishing to attend, please email office@synagogue.org.uk
    Read a report of this service here

 
  • 27 January: Shabbat from 9.15am
    Central Synagogue
    (more about this shul, its musical traditions and the service here)
    Cantor Steven Leas and choir conducted by Harry Style
    Special choral service on Shabbat Shirah to honour the women in our synagogue
    Followed by Celebratory Kiddush
    Those wishing to attend please email administrator@centralsynagogue.org.uk
    Read a report of this service here

  • 27 January: Shabbat from 9.15am
    Belsize Square Synagogue
    (more about this shul, its musical traditions and the service here)
    Cantor Paul Heller, and Community Choir conducted by Benjamin Wolf plus Youth Choir conducted by Sofia Swenson-Wright
    with organist Michael Cayton.
    Service honouring the 3 synagogue choirs for Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath of Song
    Those wishing to attend, please email office@synagogue.org.uk
    Read a report of this service here

 
  • 3 February: Shabbat 10.00am
    Edgware, Hendon and District Reform Synagogue
    (more about this shul, its musical traditions and the service here)
    Cantor Tamara Wolfson, and Rabbi Tanya Sakhnovich in a Hakol BeSeder Service
    Using creative liturgy, study texts from across our Jewish literary canon, and diverse, beautiful music
    The service will be in-person as well as livestreamed 
    Those wishing to attend please email admin@ehrs.uk

 
  • 23 February: Friday 7.00pm
    Richmond Synagogue
    (more about this shul, its musical traditions and the service here)
    Guest Cantor Rabbi Samuel de Beck Spitzer plus community youth and adult singers
    Those wishing to attend please email  administrator@richmondsynagogue.org.uk

 
  • 24 February: Shabbat from 10.00am
    Richmond Synagogue
    (more about this shul, its musical traditions and the service here)
    Guest Cantor Rabbi Samuel de Beck Spitzer plus community youth and adult singers
    Those wishing to attend, please email administrator@richmondsynagogue.org.uk

 
  • 2 March: Shabbat from 9.30am
    Kenton Synagogue
    (more about this shul, its musical traditions and the service here)
    Rabbi Cantor Geoffrey Shisler and Cantor Robert Brody will officiate with guest choir in many familiar tunes 
    Those wishing to attend, please email admin@kentonsynagogue.org.uk

  • 2 March: Shabbat from 9.30am
    South Hampstead Synagogue
    (more about this shul, its musical traditions and the service here)
    Rabbi Eli Levin will lead the service with members of the High Holydays Choir
    conducted by Motti Cohen in an engaging mixture of traditional and modern tunes
    Those wishing to attend, please email office@southhampstead.org

 
  • 16 March: Shabbat from 9.15am
    Central Synagogue
    (more about this shul, its musical traditions and the service here)
    Cantor Steven Leas and choir conducted by Harry Style
    Those wishing to attend please email administrator@centralsynagogue.org.uk

 
  • 30 March: Shabbat from 10.00am
    New West End Synagogue
    Cantor Marc Joseph and synagogue choir, Mosaic Voices, conducted by Michael Etherton. Repertoire spans 400 years
    Those wishing to attend should email the administrator Eli Ballon eli@newwestend.org.uk

 
  • 6 April: Shabbat from 9.30am
    Mill Hill Synagogue
    Cantor Adrian Alexander and Mill Hill Synagogue choir conducted by Eliot Alderman
    Traditional and modern tunes as requested by members
    Those wishing to attend please email office@millhillsynagogue.co.uk

  • 13 April: Shabbat from 10.30am
    Westminster Synagogue
    Sara Feldman Brummer and others with Alexander Knapp organ
    Those wishing to attend please email admin@westminstersynagogue.org

  • 13 April: Shabbat from 9.15am
    New London Synagogue
    Cantor Moshe Dubiner will lead the service with the NLS choir
    Those wishing to attend please email office@newlondon.org.uk

If your synagogue would like to offer a service in this scheme,
we will be happy to write about your synagogue and your music, contact Geraldine@cantors.eu

Our Newsletter No 8 with a full review of our 15th Cantors Convention, is here

2024 Edition
of
Chazanim Encylopaedia
Now
Available


The latest edition of the Jolles Encyclopaedia of British Jewish Cantors, Chazanim, Ministers and Synagogue Musicians, their history and culture published on 10th January 2024 is now available for download.

This is an expanded version from the previous 2021 and 2023 editions.

To get a copy (there is no charge, but a donation to the European Cantors Association would always be welcome) please email DownloadJollesEncyclopaedia@cantors.eu
and request the link for searchable pdf to be sent to you.

We will service the request by return.


Composing Synagogue Music for the 21st Century :
The Music of Rabbi Geoffrey Shisler

The recording of this programme, broadcast live on 27th June 2023, is here


Why Do We Mumble Our Prayers?

David Aaronovitch in his UK Jewish Chronicle article of 15 December 2022 asks
‘why do we mumble our prayers?’   
https://www.thejc.com/lets-talk/all/why-do-we-mumble-our-prayers-they-should-be-belted-out-1I5LLMOBqoNTsgb88ltykc

ECA Exec, Geraldine Auerbach, argues there has been no recognised or endorsed training for orthodox prayer leaders in the UK for decades; nor is there an agreed standard to attain.

And even if there was a standard, she argues, there is virtually no hope of employment as a prayer-leader.

Read more of this here.
ECA's suggestion to UK United Synagogue to remedy the situation is "From Our Lips..."

Our 16th Convention
will take place in
Budapest, Hungary, from
3rd - 8th December 2024.
More details soon!

Despite the challenges

our 15th Cantors Convention was a great success

Our 15th Cantors Convention, held in Hannover, Germany last month saw cantors from ten countries attend, taking part in three concerts, many lectures, three Kristallnacht commemorations, plus quite a lot of singing. 

And as well as all the eating and davenning….quite a lot of schmoozing.   And this, despite additional challenges following the atrocities commited in Israel on October 7th, which meant a number of participants from Israel were unable to make it.

One of the programme’s centrepieces was the commemoration of Kristallnacht with the Parliament and people of Lower Saxony, one of Germany’s sixteen states (below).

In front of a packed chamber of the Lower Saxony Parliament, president Hanna Naber spoke eloquently and forcefully about the Hamas atrocities, advocating Germany’s continued support of Jews and of Israel. 

ECA Executive Director, Alex Klein is pictured here responding, in an emotional address from the heart about the shared love of freedom, democracy, and humanity between Jews and Germans. 

Later, distinguished cantor Abe Lubin (once of the UK, and now US) recited the El Malei Rachamim in front of a crowd of hundreds at the site of the Old Synagogue of Hannover, a once dramatically large building, destroyed on Kristallnacht and now commemorated by a sanctuary on the street in Rote Reihe where it had previously stood.

Our cantors were invited to sing in a two-hour Kristallnacht commemoration at Leuphana University in Lüneburg.  

This was a groundbreaking event attended by some 600 community leaders and dignitaries, including award winning architect Daniel Liebeskind, who spoke about the power of memory and the dangers of indifference.

And within a full programme of lectures, recitals and davenning during the week-long convention at Hannover’s Villa Seligmann – the House of Jewish Music, a most powerful one was hearing IDF Cantor Aviya Nachshon an Orthodox Cantor from Herzliya.

Aviya spoke speak of how he had left his synagogue on Simchat Torah to go directly into active service, still wearing his Shabbat clothes, to attend directly to the aftermath of the October 7th atrocities. 

In a moving address to the packed convention room Cantor Nachshon recounted the difficult and sacred task of his unit at the kibbutzim, after which the cantors sang Acheinu in unison.

We are adding more and more material – videos and photos from the Convention - on our YouTube channel – do keep looking back.   

And whether you were able to come to our Convention or not, thank you for your suppo
rt in the last twelve months.   News of our 2024 programming will be available in due course.


A review of our 14th Convention, in Budapest
in November 2022, is here.

We continue to upload the sessions
from the 14th Convention on our YouTube channel.

 


 

Check out and subscribe to our YouTube Channel for a reprise on all our activity,
including the 21 programmes of
'Voice of the Cantor' published in 2020 - 2022.

Clips from our 14th Cantors Convention are also posted there.

Our Facebook; Twitter and Instagram pages are also regularly updated.

 


Here are two presentations to start off 2024 with,
and with thanks to Spencer Nathan and our continuing partnership
with Edgware Synagogue. Recording links are indicated below

The recording is here

The recording will be available soon

Remembering Rabbi Cantor Michael Plaskow MBE

Rabbi Cantor Michael Plaskow MBE was Emeritus Chazan of London's Woodside Park Synagogue, London and City of London Freeman.

He was a great and distinguished chazan, mohel and leader in both the Jewish and wider communities, later taking Semicha.

He was at Woodside Park Synagogue for an amazing 43 years and a practising Mohel for 33 years, initiating some 16,000 babies.

Michael was one of our stars in November 2021 in our 'Voice of the Cantor' series when he was interviewed by ECA Director, Alex Klein.

You can see that interview here on our YouTube Channel and listen here to the podcast version.

 

Reprised : Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks' extolling value of Jewish Music

We have republished a video featuring late Chief Rabbi of the UK and the Commonwealth, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks extolling the virtues of Jewish Music at the 25th Anniversary of the Jewish Music Institute in 2010.

The video is here.

"To me music is the most spiritual form of expression that exists Music was absolutely essential to Jewish spirituality" he says. "Words are the language of the mind – but music is the language of the soul".

He talks about nusach : "...you know exactly when and what kind of literature you are listening to, simply from listening to the music When we move from the secular to the spiritual – words take wings through music".

"How do we make Judaism live for a new generation – that answer is, we have to make it sing. If it has no music, no emotional contact, if there is no music – you can’t hand it on."


Additional Resources:

 

Links to other cantorial-related sites

Shuls With A Cantor In The United Kingdom
(please advise of any changes)

Layaning in English

To Download the Jolles Encyclopaedia of British Jewish Cantors, Chazanim, Ministers and Synagogue Musicians, their history and culture email DownloadJollesEncyclopaedia@cantors.eu and request the link for searchable pdf to be sent to you.

About ECA:

ECA is an independent organisation, based on orthodox tradition and convention but open to all who are interested in the music of the synagogue and the role and art of the cantor.

European Cantors on Facebook

European Cantors On Twitter

European Cantors on Instagram

* See the Aims of the European Cantors Association.

* See the people involved in the European Cantors Association.

European Cantors Association (ECA)
Director Alex Klein  alex@cantors.eu
Bringing together all who love Jewish liturgical music and the power it brings to prayer

The European Cantors Association (ECA) is an independent organisation established in the United Kingdom in 2012.

It is a framework for cantors, prayer leaders and interested lay people across the spectrum of Jewish worship, to engage in dialogue, training and profile-raising to ensure that the beautiful and unique music of Jewish prayer, continues to enhance synagogue services for generations to come. 

Last Updated 11th February 2024