New Classical Series at London's Iconic Central Synagogue Launches with Violist David Aaron Carpenter Tonight
Great Portland Street's iconic Central Synagogue, the famous venue, will host world-class classical musicians in series that gives Jewish perspectives on the great composers. The series is founded by Inverne Price Music Consultancy and renowned cantor Steven Leas. Viola star David Aaron Carpenter and soloists of the New York Salome Chamber Orchestra will play July 8th launch event, in their UK debut.
The best music series share a beating heart with their locations - and there is an iconic venue, until now all but undiscovered as near-perfect for concerts. Lovely in its acoustics and structure, historic, atmospheric and located right in the centre of London, it is the capital's beautiful Central Synagogue. Constructed on Great Portland Street in 1870 and then rebuilt in 1958 after having been bombed, it has been one of the UK's most admired and important synagogues for all that time. It has a tradition of attracting some of the country's top cantors - including the famous Reverend Simon Hass and, currently, Steven Leas - but a new musical tradition is about to be forged there, with the creation of the International Concerts Series At Central Synagogue.
Curated by James Inverne, for Inverne Price Music Consultancy, and by Central Synagogue's admired chazan (cantor) Steven Leas, the series will be inaugurated in high style on 8th July 2014 - with the London debut performance of David Aaron Carpenter and soloists of the New York Salome Chamber Orchestra. Carpenter, dubbed "the hottest violist of the 21st century" by commentator Norman Lebrecht and "stunningly talented" by The New Yorker, will explore "Music of the Jewish Diaspora" - music by composers including Mendelssohn, Kreisler, Gershwin and new works by Russian-American Alexey Shor.
Thereafter the series will comprise six concerts annually, three featuring solo piano and three focussing on other instruments or voice. "There are," says James Inverne, "two stipulations in terms of what we will present. One, the artists have to be world-class, on a par with anything one might see at Wigmore Hall, for instance. And two, each concert has to have something Jewish about it - however obscure or hidden. So that might be to do with the repertoire, or the artists themselves, or simply something to do with themes in the music or the time and place of the music's writing. Those who aren't interested in that side of things might not even notice. For those who are, the idea will always be there somewhere; it might be overt, or it might be waiting to be discovered."
For those who are indeed looking for the Jewish ideas, each concert will be accompanied by a programme essay delving into those themes. "I have always loved and lived in music," says Steven Leas, "This beautiful synagogue is blessed with wonderful acoustics. I want it to assume its rightful place in London's music world, but we never wanted just to invite famous musicians for the sake of inviting famous musicians. Music is about ideas as well as feelings, so this series will be about a collection of thoughts, a debate of the mind as well as a feast for the ears."
The first season will be announced at today's 8th July inaugural concert and will feature an impressive array of leading artists from the UK and abroad.
Central Synagogue was built in 1870 on the site of an old warehouse, the foundation stone laid by Baron Lionel de Rothschild, the Ark opened by then-85-year-old Sir Moses Montefiore. Destroyed by enemy bombing in 1941, the current building was completed in 1958, consecrated on 23rd March, and also included a built-to-scale Childrens' Synagogue.
Steven Leas, born in South Africa, is one of the UK's most admired cantors. Following the retirement of Central Synagogue's long-time and famous chazan, Simon Hass, Leas has been credited with continuing the great cantorial traditions at the synagogue, building a choir with a nationwide reputation and returning to the community some of the musical arrangements that grew organically out of its own history.
Inverne Price Music Consultancy, created in 2012, is an artist management and PR agency that James Inverne and New York-based colleague Patricia Price founded to bring creativity and a sense of 'story' to those roles, all rooted in the vision of the artists and institutions with whom they work. Inverne's previous roles include Editor of Gramophone and European Performing Arts Correspondent for Time Magazine; Price was executive Director of Portland Piano International and managed the classical division of the Allegro Music Group.