Coming to your computer screen, the Yiddishe musical dream team

Dame Maureen Lipman and cellist Steven Isserlis to feature in star-studded Jewish Music Institute concert


A star-studded virtual concert featuring an exclusive performance by Dame Maureen Lipman of a song from a lost musical about Israel’s fourth prime minister will premiere on Facebook in February.

“The song is just gorgeous,” said Dame Maureen about the Next Year In Jerusalem title track, sung from the perspective of Golda Meir’s mother, to premiere during the Jewish Music Institute’s World Tour of Jewish Music next month.

The songwriter Roger Cook worked on the musical with the late Jewish composer, Lionel Bart, in the late 1970s. The two were inspired to write a musical about a strong woman, he said. “Her story was the stuff of movies, so we decided it had to be Golda Meir.

“We went to the Albert Hall and saw Golda live and even went on a research trip to Israel together but we certainly didn’t do much writing there. Then in ’76 I moved to Nashville. Lionel came and stayed and we laid down the songs together.”

Mr Cook added: “I wish Lionel was alive and kicking, as he would be crazy proud that finally after all these years this lost musical is going to be heard and have a life.”

Hosted by broadcaster Suzy Klein, Sir Simon Schama and JMI’s Lord Michael Grade, the gala will showcase Jewish artists from around the world, including the French composer Claude-Michel Schönberg, who will discuss his Les Misérables hit, Bring Him Home.

Other highlights will include the violinist Nicola Benedetti who will play Ernest Bloch’s Prayer and the American jazz trumpeter Frank London, who will perform Klezmer On The Roof. The singer Shura Lipvosky, who is currently working on setting up a Yiddish songwriting group with JMI, will perform her new track, Der Iker, for the first time.

The award-winning cellist Steven Isserlis will contribute a rendition of Maurice Ravel’s Kaddish. He said: “It’s just a beautiful piece.

“Ravel was not Jewish himself but somehow he entered into the spirit of the Kaddish. It’s of course very tragic, incredibly beautiful and heartfelt music.”

The musician said he felt “completely at home with Jewish music” and added that growing up his favourite portions of shul services “were always the musical bits."

“Playing Jewish music means a lot to me, and I do play the music of Bloch as often as I can. I find it speaks to people in a very direct and strong way.”

Mr Isserlis’ segment of the evening is one of several that are being pre-recorded. In the last year, he has had around 80 cancellations. “It’s not a good time for musicians.

“The only silver lining is that people are so desperate for music now than when we do play, it’s extra special for people who are listening and for us.”

Pop star Jessie Ware, a patron of Nightingale Hammerson’s Apples and Honey nursery, will appear with a message of support for the gala.

The evening will also include a performance of the klezmer-inspired piece “Lubin from Chelm”, written by the composer David Yang and featuring the actor Henry Goodman.

Mr Goodman, whose uncle and sister were both musical, said he had sought to explore his Jewish cultural heritage through JMI programming.

“Like a lot of Jewish people in the East End, my mum would sing lullabies,” the musician recalled.

“I started to find out the history of those things and where they came from. It gives a sense of understanding your own roots.”

His uncle performed in Joe Loss’ band and Mr Goodman heard him play at barmitzvahs and weddings. “My sister has a fantastic voice and sang in the Reform synagogue choir, men and women together.

“There were these things in the roots of my family history as well as the celebration of music in the local club.”

JMI chair Jennifer Jankel — Mr Loss’s daughter — said it had been an “enormous honour to immerse myself in the rich and diverse living heritage of Jewish music.” The event, to be held at 7.30pm on 11 February, is free to join. Twenty per cent of all donations will go to the Jewish care home, Nightingale Hammerson.

The event will be broadcast at 7:30pm on Thursday 11 February on, and via the Jewish Music Institute’s Facebook page, @JewishMusicInstitute. To find out more, email:


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