Cinema Judaica Music Review - A Right of Memories

Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, the Ford Amphitheater was home last night, August 8, 2010, to the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony featuring music from movies by famous Jewish composers.  

Los Angeles Jewish Symphony Dr. Noreen Green

The intimate setting and wonderful acoustics enhanced the brilliant performances.  Composer/conductor Charles Fox led us in a rendition of  both the Star Spangled Banner and HaTikvah.  With moist eyes, we sat down to listen to the stirrings of music from Hollywood.  

Upon playing of the upbeat theme from Twentieth Century Fox, Dr. Noreen Green, conductor and artistic director of the symphony, came out to start the evening performance.  Music director of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California, Dr. Green is one of the founders of the LAJS and a renown lecturer on Jewish music.   For this evening, the 7th annual performance at Ford, Dr. Green chose not to have the screen with clips from the movies, but instead to let our own memories and imaginations take us back to the sense of the theatre.  

Since it’s inception in 1994, the LAJS has been dedicated to the performance of orchestral works of distinction which explores Jewish culture, heritage and experience.  It also serves as an important resource for aspiring composers and musicians.

Los Angeles Jewish Symphony - Noreen Green Conducting. Photos by Guy Madmoni

Elmer Bernstein’s Ten Commandments started the evening.  A young man, Elmer had not been officially hired to do the score for the movie but when his mentor became unable to complete the assignment, Elmer was able to step in.  Despite it’s passion, the music was not even mentioned at the Academy Awards that year (1956).  

Dr. Noreen Green conducting at the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony

Mr. Bernstein then went on to provide music for Chaim Potak’s film, The Chosen – a story of a Chassidic Family and a secular Zionist family.  In order to combine the flavor of both cultures, Bernstein took sections from modern jazz (representing the Zionist family) and Klezmeir music, which, along with Chassidism, has it’s origins in Eastern Europe.  Arranged by Victor Pesavento and Zinovy Goro, the music alternated and then finally blended as we all finally blend into one people.  

Leon Uris’ QB VII – the six hour mini series of a Polish doctor’s trial as he is accused of helping the Nazis – was played in several different parts all composed by Jerry Goldsmith and orchestrated by Alexander Courage.  At the end of the set, the Ford Festival Choir performed a moving rendition of the Kaddish for the Six Million.  (The Kaddish is the prayer for the dead said daily in Jewish prayers.)  

Mark Kashper, on the violin,  then treated us to John Williams’ Theme from Schindler’s List.  Russian born Kaspher is the first violinist and one of the founding members of LAJS, as well.  

Los Angeles Jewish Symphony -- Photo by Guy Madmoni

Besides conducting, Charles Fox is also well known for his music “ Killing Me Softly” and other TV themes.  He did the music for Victory at Entebbe immortalizing the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) rescuing the passengers from the hijacked Air France plane.  Playing along with Fox’s music was Israeli pianist, Andy Feldbau, who also gave us a rendition of A Whole New World from Disney’s Mermaid.  

Danny Pelfrey’s music from Joseph: King of Dreams  was enhanced again by the Ford Festival Choir and followed by Trinkt L’Chayim from Throughly Modern Millie – the wedding song – composed by Elmer Bernstein and Sylvia Neufeld and sung by soprano, Ariella Vaccarino and arranged by Zinovy Goro.  

Next we were treated to the thirteen year old soprano Hannah Drew, singing Can You Believe  from the Prince of Egypt.  Arranged by Charles Sayre, the music and the melody and the talent of this young girl blew most people away. 

Los Angeles Jewish Symphony Noreen Green conducting. Photo by Guy Madmoni

The evening finished up with the music from award winning West Bank Story by Yuval Ron, on the oud,  and performed on drum by Jamie Papish and finally Masada by Jerry Goldsmith.  

For more information about the LAJS and future performances call 818 436 5260 or

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