Belsize Square Synagogue was founded in early 1939 by Jewish refugees based in the Swiss Cottage area of London. With help from the local Liberal Synagogue these founder members were able to hold their first Friday evening Service on 24th March, 1939.

In the weeks preceding this Service, Oberkantor Magnus Davidsohn, who became the synagogue’s first Cantor, managed to gather together a group of professional singers – mostly famous stars of Opera from Berlin and Vienna, all of whom sang without a fee. Magnus Davidsohn had sung with them all on the continent. He also found the brilliant musician Melitta Heim (a retired Opera singer) who accompanied the choir on the organ until 1950.
The scores from which the choir sang had been miraculously saved from the burning Synagogue at Fasanenstrasse on Kristallnacht by Magnus Davidsohn, who brought them to London.

The sound produced by the 1939 choir was outstanding and a hard act to follow, but over the 70 years since then, we have continued to be privileged with a choir of very high standard.
In all ten choirmasters have led this choir up to our present Choirmaster, Benjamin Wolf, and after Magnus Davidsohn have come five more Cantors, the latest of whom takes up his post in June of this year.
Though the choir’s repertoire has been based on the nineteenth-century music of Salomon Sulzer and Louis Lewandowski, every Cantor in his turn has introduced other music to us, and this has produced a varied repertoire which is nonetheless rooted in the German Liberale tradition.

The Professional Choir of Belsize Square Synagogue includes both Jewish and non-Jewish members, some of whom have sung for the synagogue for several decades. It usually consists of eight members (four for Shabbat morning), and is augmented to eleven for High Holy Day services.
One of the most satisfying aspects of the choir over the years has been the intense loyalty shown by several non-Jewish singers who fell in love with our music and stayed.
Benjamin Wolf works as a conductor, pianist, composer, singer and academic. He is Musical Director of the Zemel Choir, the Wallace Ensemble and the Royal Free Music Society, Choirmaster of Belsize Square Synagogue and a regular conductor of the Quorum Chamber Choir. As pianist, he works as both accompanist and solo recitalist, while his singing is primarily focussed on performances with his own Jewish barbershop quartet, bOYbershop, for which he has written a number of arrangements and original compositions.
Following the awarded of a PhD in 2010, he has worked as a visiting lecturer at Royal Holloway and Bristol University, while in 2011 he was appointed as Lecturer in Music at Regent’s University, London. He has given conference papers in the UK and America, and was one of the organisers of a conference at the IMR (Institute for Musical Research) in January 2013.
Since his debut as an organist at the Royal Festival Hall in 1988, Michael Cayton has been in demand as a recitalist and accompanist and has appeared all over the country and in Europe, with notable London appearances at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster Abbey, Blackheath Concert Halls and the Wigmore Hall.

http://www.synagogue.org.uk

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