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Photo by Guy Madmoni


Photo by Guy Madmoni


Photo by Guy Madmoni

 

Rosalind Marmel

Rosalind Marmel from L.A.: Los Angeles Jewish Symphony Celebrates 18th Birthday with SRO Chailights Concert

Rosalind Marmel, Los Angeles Correspondent

In the intimate setting of the historic outdoor Ford Amphitheatre, seemingly carved out of the hills of the Cahuenga Pass in Los Angeles, directly across from the massive Hollywood Bowl, on August 26th, Dr. Noreen Green, founder, artistic director and conductor of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, along with over a 1200 attendees and devoted performers celebrated the Chai, 18th birthday, of this world class Jewish symphony orchestra.
 
The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony Orchestra is the only symphony orchestra outside of Israel whose mission is to perform a range of music reflective of the total Jewish experience. Since 1994, the LAJS has dedicated itself to the performance of orchestral works of distinction that explore Jewish culture, heritage and experience, also acting as a resource for aspiring musicians and composers, building “bridges of music” and understanding within the diverse multi-ethnic communities of Los Angeles. 
 
Former Winnipegger, Cantor Herschel Fox shares a spot on the Board of Advisors along with other musical geniuses including Theodore Bikel.
 
Dr. Noreen Green, who has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Music from USC, is also the musical director of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California with Herschel Fox being their cantor. She is a renowned lecturer on Jewish music, and an accomplished educator known worldwide for her expertise in presenting music with Jewish themes. 
 
Dr. Green has won numerous awards for her contributions to the multi-cultural musical scene in Los Angeles. Most recently the California Legislature Assembly honored her for producing and conducting, “Remembering 9/11”, the Interfaith Tribute Choir and Orchestra concert commemorating the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. She has received public recognition for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life, the Golda Meir Award from the State of Israel Bonds along with too many other awards to mention. She has been a featured speaker for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and conducted at the opening ceremonies of the 2001 Maccabi Games in Philadelphia. 
 
Dr. Green has been guest conductor with the Rubin Academy Orchestra in Tel Aviv, the Johannesburg Philharmonic, the Jerusalem Symphony and the R’aanana Symphonette. She has conducted the LAJS in concert with celebrities such as Billy Crystal, Tovah Feldshuh, Leonard Nimoy, Randy Newman, Valerie Harper, Theodore Bikel, Pat Boone, Lainie Kazan, Fyvush Finkel, Dave Koz, Marvin Hamlisch, Roslyn Kind and many more.
 
Winnipeg’s Emmy Award winning Allan Blye, who is busy rehearsing in L.A with guest cantorial soloists: former Winnipegger and Metropolitan Opera star, Norman Mittelman, former Winnipegger and Emmy winner, jazz recording artist Aubrey Tadman and other great musical stars, for the unique and revered High Holy Day services he holds at the Woodland Hills Hilton stopped everything he was doing to rave about Dr. Green….
 
Allan told me, “besides being a wife and a mom, Noreen has probably done more to revive and maintain classic Jewish music for symphonic and choral performances, as well as introducing new and exciting compositions for synagogue services, than anyone I have ever met.”
 
In the summer of 1993, Dr. Green worked with conductor Murry Sidlin at the Aspen Music School. It was with his support and encouragement that she developed the concept for and founded the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony. 
 
During her tenure with the LAJS, Dr. Green and Education Director Ilizabeth Gilbert have developed education programs that received funding from the New and Innovative Grants division of the Jewish Community Foundation, the Righteous Persons Foundation, the Maurice Amado Foundation, the City of L.A. Cultural Affairs Department, the Leonard and Susan Bay Nimoy Foundation and the Tel Aviv/Los Angeles Partnership. 
 
LAJS received a substantial educational grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for “The Patchwork of Cultures Program”, which uses music to illustrate and celebrate the cultural bridge between the Sephardic Jewish and Hispanic communities.
 
They have performed at prestigious venues both locally and abroad commanding standing ovations. 
 
The Los Angeles Times wrote, “The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony seems committed to the axiom that diversity is a terrible thing to waste.”
 
Diversity was not wasted at the Chai celebration concert that torrid summer night. There was diversity in the multi-ethnic audience. There was diversity in the multi-ethnic performers. There were attendees, young and old who had never attended a symphony concert before.
 
A gentleman in his 50’s told me that although always a music lover; his friends were not symphony goers. For the first time he truly experienced the intense facial expressions and physical emotions illustrated while watching classical musicians play their instruments and Dr. Green conducting.   He was excited about the new discovery he made and determined to make symphony attendance a regular part of his life.
 
Two sweet and beautiful, young African American sisters who were part of the recently formed Jewish Community Children’s Choir, conducted by Dr. Michelle Green Willner told me how much they loved being a part of the choir.  When I asked them how they felt about learning Hebrew and Yiddish, they answered, “at first it was kind of hard but then it became easy and fun.” How many of us would describe our learning of those languages as easy and fun? 
 
Composers who were inspired by the yiddishkayt music of the Hassidic, Klezmer, and cantorial traditions wrote each of the pieces performed.
 
The program began with, “Reb Mendele”, a suite composed by the distinguished pianist, composer and educator, Simon A. Sargon for violin and orchestra. Sargon’s teaching experience includes Sarah Lawrence, the Juilliard School of Music and Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He served as the head of the Voice Department at the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has premiered many of his works, which are performed nationally and internationally. The name of the suite is derived from the name of his grandfather, Menachem Mendele. He never knew his grandfather who after immigrating to Palestine in 1932 was killed in the 1939 Arab uprisings in Tiberias. 
 
Sargon writes, “in this work, I attempted to enter aspects of his world as I imagined it-the world of East European Jewry with all of its piety, its warmth and closeness.”
 
Concertmaster and one of the founding members Mark Kashper, who also holds the chair of Associate Principal Second Violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, stole the show. Kashper is a graduate of the Moscow Conservatoire and the Leningrad Conservatoire who immigrated to the United States in 1978. Three months later, he auditioned with the L.A. Philharmonic. Born in Leningrad in 1954, he began taking violin lessons at age 5. I suspect that he was born with a violin under his chin.
 
Kiev born principal clarinetist, Zinovy Goro’s fingers danced along his clarinet as he played Abraham Ellstein’s “Hassidic Dance.” Zinovy will tell you his story himself if you watch the YouTube footage attached.
 
Los Angeles born award winning, Juilliard graduate, cellist Barry Gold who has to have the most infectious smile I’ve ever seen swept us away with Grammy Award winner, Lucas Richman’s, “Prayer and Freylach.”
 
Next Zinovy Goro, David Shostac and Chris Hardin performed the U.S. premiere of “Klezmopolitan Suite,” composed by Niki Reiser, a former member of the European klezmer group “Kol Simcha.” The suite deals with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain.
 
Dr. Green explained that she fell in love with it after listening to it on a tape that she bought. I did too. 
 
After intermission, we were treated to “Kol Bamidbar Medley” composed and sung by the famed Sam Glaser. Michael Lington was at the sax and the Jewish Community Children’s Choir sang and acted. Sam described it as a mini version of a musical that he wrote about the studying of Torah. It reminded me of the beginning scene in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
 
The concert featured nothing but astounding talent and music. Stephen S. Wise’s Cantor Nathan Lam, who officiated at Dr. Green’s Bat Mitzvah, showed off vocals as did stage performer and cantor for The Temple for the Arts, Ilysia Pierce.

Oncologist, Dr. Ian Drew is the president of the LAJS. He is also Dr. Noreen Gold’s husband.

Dr. Drew has written, “Torah teaches us two episodes where the Divine Hand held back swollen waters to allow the Israelites through. Once, at the crossing of the Sea of Reeds during the escape from Egypt, and once at the crossing of the Jordan River during the entrance into the land of milk and honey. One event is remembered every year at Passover, while the other is all but forgotten. Why, ask the sages? Because the miracle of the former was celebrated in song and music, and the latter was not.”

As the year 5773 approaches, I will say with confidence, that for many more years Dr. Noreen Green’s love child, The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony Orchestra will be around to uplift our spirits and to unite.

 
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