CCJ Oxford “World Class” 70th Anniversary Concert
“World class” was one comment heard at the special Concert for the 70th Anniversary of CCJ on Tuesday night 29th May. Like Manchester, Brighton and Newcastle, CCJ Oxford branch was started the year CCJ was established in 1942. To a large audience in the chapel of Harris Manchester College University of Oxford, Oxford-shir, the Choir of the Oxford Jewish community gave a stunning performance. Under the baton of John Dunston the range of music was impressive, from the sacred to the secular, from the serious to the fun and light-hearted rendition of “This Old Man.”
The choir has seriously grown in stature and competence over the years, some very difficult pieces now being delivered with confidence and precision. One piece, Yom zeh le’Israel was composed by conductor Dunston and another, Ahavat Olam by lead tenor Alexander Massey having its world premier at the concert! Both Dunston and Massey had the security and confidence of an Oxford professor of music on the keyboard. Susan Wallenberg deserves special mention for her sensitive and responsive accompaniment on the piano.
The choir was accompanied by the wind quartet, Jenkins Noyes in Salamone Rossi, Ein kelohenu, a haunting rendition delivered with precision and aplomb. With strong overtones of Monteverdi Vespers, Dunston did well to keep this moving and in time. The wind quartet had their own time too with foot tapping jazz and well as negro spirituals.
Much applause was reserved though for the delightful and hugely talented Israeli soprano , Tal Katsir, currently studying in the UK. The clarity of her voice and perfect delivery of a number of operatic arias with characterful flair, won the hearts of an appreciative the audience. Tal will certainly be a name to watch out for in the years ahead.
The newly renovated organ of Harris Manchester was put through its paces by the equally talented Sam Baker, Senior Organ scholar and Director of Chapel music at Pembroke College. His interpretation and expert delivery of Toccata in C major was excellent bringing colour and depth to a very technically challenging and lengthy piece of Bach organ music.
The Chief Executive of CCJ, who is also a member of the Oxford branch, attended the concert. In a short speech he gave special recognition to Harris Manchester College for the many years it had supported Jewish- Christian dialogue in a multiplicity of ways, not least in providing a safe space for dialogue.
Wendy Fidler, CCJ national Trustee and Chair Emeritus of the Oxford branch reminded people why Jewish-Christian dialogue is still important and the role CCJ plays in addressing antisemitism. She gave the vote of thanks and presented commemorative gifts to the soloists and accompanists. The event raised almost £500 for the Oxford CCJ’s work.