Visiting festival chazan enjoys his album entry

By Simon Rocker, September 16, 2013
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The visiting High Holy Day chazan for Mill Hill Synagogue has released an album of Jewish music, including a modern version of one of the central Rosh Hashanah prayers.

Simon Cohen, who grew up in Hampstead Garden Suburb and made aliyah 18 years ago, will be returning to sing in London after officiating at Mill Hill for the past four years.

His new album, Shirot Vetishbachot, “Songs and Praise”, sets 10 cantorial tracks to orchestral settings involving more than 100 musicians from Prague and a choir of 50.

One is a composition for Berosh Hashanah, a key prayer recited during both the New Year and Yom Kippur services.
The tune, he explained, was “composed by the famous Ellie Jaffe, conductor of the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem, where he combines his modern classical style of orchestral writings with the nostalgia of the cantorial liturgy.
“Berosh Hashanah is the climax of the High Holy Day services, where one feels the electricity and atmosphere in shul, where all the congregation are united in prayer for the year to come. I feel tremendous responsibility using the unlimited power of music to uplift the congregation and deliver our prayers.”

Mr Cohen learned many of the tunes he uses today from his grandfather, Rabbi Eliezer Spector, the late rabbi and chazan of the Walford Road Synagogue in Stoke Newington.

His wife Nechama also comes from a musical family — her uncle is Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld, rabbi and chazan of Western Marble Arch Synagogue.

Last updated: 9:45am, September 16 2013