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Malovany and Shabbaton unite

by: Dan Levy - Last updated: 2006-11-14

Shabbaton Choir

Shabbaton Choir

The internationally renowned Cantor Joseph Malovany and the legendary Shabbaton choir have been reunited for the first time in 20 years at a gala concert in London.

An almost capacity audience at the New West End synagogue were treated last Motzei Shabbat to a rich feast of classic chazzanut and choral favourites, with a sprinkling of  some more rarefied fare for the musical connoisseur. It was in aid of the family charity Norwood.

Joseph Malovany has been the Chazan in the prestigious Fifth Avenue synagogue in New York for more than thirty years. Before that he had a short –and memorable-stint in Edgware, where he quickly cultivated an almost cult following. His rich tenor voice, like fine wine, just gets better with the years.

The unique and accessible sound of the Shabbaton Choir provided the perfect counterpoint to the chazzan. The product of their charismatic founder, composer Stephen Glass, who now works in Canada, his distinctive style which he brought to their singing remains deeply etched in the repertoire.  Current musical director and conductor Stephen Levey has remained faithful to his predecessor’s musical vision.

There was the bonus of hearing the young and highly promising London-based Chazan Jonny Turgel and the Choir’s polished boy soloist, Jonathan Artman.

If one had to single out the evening’s highlights, the choir and chazzan Malovany’s interpretation of the Rosenblatt classic, Uvenucho Yomar.was simply compelling. How Yossele would have marvelled at the unmistakeable Glass veneer added to this most beautiful of liturgical compositions. In complete contrast was a double offering of the popular Chassidic composer Yankele Talmud, who has given us such well seasoned pieces as  Yismechu Bemalchutech, which comprised one of  rousing finales to the concert

There was another rendition of the highly emotional Stephen Levey composition Bilvavi-with my heart- a tribute to the late Yoni Jesner, the young Scottish born man who was tragically killed in a terrorist incident in Israel four years ago. 

Jonathan Artman established his credentials both in the popular B’rogez  and he was equally at home in his duet performance with Jonny Turgel in the demanding setting of the Tal prayer.

Ever the showman Chazan Malovany gave the audience a cameo role, singing a wordless melody, which he heard from a passer by in Mea Shearim. It was executed with much aplomb!
 
Urging the Anglo-Jewish community to preserve its Jewish musical heritage, the evening was rounded off with a majestic version with all the performers of Yigdal, composed in Liverpool back in the 1870’s!