Birthday concerto

By Ruth Rothenberg, March 5, 2009

Belsize Square Synagogue celebrated its 70th anniversary on Sunday with the premiere of a specially commissioned cello concerto echoing the experience of its founding members, refugees from Nazi Germany.

Written by the shul’s choirmaster Benjamin Wolf, Etz Chayim, Tree of Life reflects a community reclaiming its traditions — and above all, its musical heritage.

Mr Wolf, cellist Gemma Rosefield and the other players received a standing ovation from the audience. A clearly emotional Rabbi Rodney Mariner said the performance was a “magic moment” of his 27 years at the synagogue. “The music gave a history of the pain, loss and triumph of so many in this congregation.”

The concerto was the climax of an evening also featuring songs by soprano Alice Woodbridge — who celebrated her batmitzvah at Belsize Square — and piano contributions from David Lawrence, another Belsize Square alumnus, who is a music teacher at North London Collegiate School.

Last updated: 7:26pm, March 11 2009