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Thursday, 10 November 2011, 6:00PM
Bevis Marks Synagogue

The History and Music of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Congregation in the City of London

Maurice Bitton, Chazan Eliot Alderman

Bevis Marks Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in the UK (consecrated 1701), and is the 'cathedral synagogue' of a community which arrived in England in 1656 with the blessing of Oliver Cromwell, thus ending over three-and-a-half centuries of Jewish exile from this country. For the last 350 years this community has existed as an integral part of religious and cultural life in the City of London.   This lecture explores the history of this interaction, with a particular focus on how it has affected the community's musical-liturgical heritage, from its origins in the Portuguese Jewish community of Amsterdam and the conversos fleeing the Spanish Inquisition, through the time of Handel and Hadyn, the Romanticism of the 19th century, right through to the present day. The lecture is illustrated by live performances of selections from the congregation's liturgical music by the choir of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation, as well as archive recordings of times gone by. 

maurice-bitton

Maurice Bitton is the Beadle and Curator at Bevis Marks Synagogue.

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Eliot is a freelance synagogue musician, much in demand as a choirmaster and Cantor at synagogues and Jewish communities across the UK and beyond. He currently serves as choirmaster at both Mill Hill Synagogue and Edgware Synagogue, and is working with the United Synagogue on a project to preserve and transmit traditional liturgical music and practice to the next generation of synagogue music professionals.

He also directs his own professional choral group - The Rinah Ensemble - which is frequently asked to accompany many of today's top Cantors for concerts, events and special services.

Following his initial scientific studies at Cambridge University, Eliot trained as a singer and conductor at the Guildhall School of Music, and later on the Opera Course at the Royal Academy of Music, where he was awarded the DipRAM, the Academy's highest award for postgraduate study. He studied Jewish liturgical music at the Tel-Aviv Cantorial Institute.

In 2009 Eliot was appointed Director of Music - and in 2013, Hazan (Cantor) - to the Spanish & Portuguese Jews' Congregation, the UK's oldest Jewish community. He is currently working on a complete edition of that synagogue's musical-liturgical cycle, which will result in a publication and full set of recordings by the Congregation's publishing society.

A full list of Eliot's forthcoming engagements can be found on his website:

www.chazaneliotalderman.co.uk

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