The Synagogal Ensemble Berlin was founded in 2002 as a concert ensemble by Regina Yantian and cantor Isaac Sheffer. It consists of eight to 16 professional singers, who work at international opera houses and as freelance concert singers as well as in the choir of Pestalo8zzistraße synagogue in Berlin.

The aim of the Synagogal Ensemble Berlin is to acquaint a broad public with Jewish liturgical and cantorial music, the focus lying on the German-Jewish tradition of Louis Lewandowski, a musical genre that had almost fallen into oblivion and that the festival aspired to revive.

Over the years, the Synagogal Ensemble Berlin has acquired a wide repertoire of synagogue music, ranging from baroque to 19th century composers from Western and Eastern Europe. Modern and choral works from Israel have also become a well-received contribution to the festival.

In over 15 years of its existence, the Synagogal Ensemble Berlin has given countless concerts in synagogues, churches or concert halls in Germany, Poland, Serbia, Sweden, England, Italy, Israel and South Africa – a capella, with organ accompaniment or with orchestra.

Since 2011 the Synagogal Ensemble Berlin has hosted the guest choirs at the annual Louis Lewandowski Festival in Berlin. Festival director Nils Busch-Petersen is also member of the board of the Association of Friends and Promoters of the Synagogal Ensemble Berlin. Once a year in December, choirs from all over the world are invited to Berlin, making the treasures of synagogue music from different periods and regions resound throughout the city at the Louis Lewandowski Festival.

Regina Yantian began her training as an organist at the age of 10 and later as a choir director. She studied Jewish Studies and Comparative Musicology in Heidelberg, Jerusalem and Berlin.

In the course of her studies, she dealt in depth with various forms of Jewish music. She completed her master’s degree with a thesis on Israeli pop music.

She has been organist and choirmaster of the Pestalozzistraße Synagogue since 1998. There she leads the professional choir of the synagogue, which accompanies all church services. Regina Yantian is also an experienced leader of lay choirs. From 2004 to 2011 she conducted the Schalom Choir Berlin, founded by Estrongo Nachama.

Cantor Isaac Sheffer, born 1951 in Israel, began his singing career as a member of the ensemble of the newly founded opera in Israel. There he took on several solo roles and appeared as a soloist with several Israeli orchestras, including the Israeli Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta and Claudio Abbado.

Cantor Isaac Sheffer now lives in Berlin, where he has worked for 20 years as cantor of the Jewish community, mainly in the Pestalozzistraße synagogue. There he continued the tradition of 19th century Berlin synagogue music with compositions by Louis Lewandowski, in which all Shabbat and holiday services are accompanied by the cantor in alternating chant with choir and solemn organ sounds.