Chrysler named Young Cantor of the Year


Twenty-year-old Didi Chrysler prevailed in a northern battle to be crowned Young Cantor of the Year at St John's Wood Synagogue on Monday night.

The Jerusalem-based Mancunian saw off the challenge of Southport Hebrew Congregation's Yossi Saunders, 21, and Charles Chait, 21, from Liverpool's Childwall Synagogue. A fourth finalist, Levi Coleman from Stamford Hill, was unable to compete because of work commitments at a Beverly Hills hotel.

Mr Chrysler's prize is a scholarship to the prestigious Tel Aviv Cantorial Institute, under the leadership of Cantor Naftali Herstik.

Each finalist performed two pieces, accompanied by Daphne Lewis on piano, before an audience of almost 400. The judging panel of cantors Asher Hainovitz and Moshe Haschel and Rabbi Geoffrey Shisler said the three were "incredibly talented", making their job very difficult.

"Didi has a wonderful voice - it just seems to flow - and he sings with such a lot of feeling," Mr Haschel said. "It gives me pleasure to see that so many young people are becoming interested in chazanut. We must preserve it for the future."

Mr Chrysler said his victory was unexpected. "I am really, really happy. My father Shlomi Chrysler was chazan at Vine Street [in Manchester] and my grandfather ran a choir in Gateshead. I also have an uncle who is a chazan in South Africa. It must be in my blood. I am looking forward to starting my training. I think the term starts in October and I am determined to get the best out of it."

The competition was run by the Jewish Music Institute and Tephilharmonic, a society set up to preserve traditional Orthodox synagogue music.

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