In Beny2020 Stories, First, stories

As co-chairs of the Cantor’s Celebrations committee, we are delighted to invite you to the second event honouring Cantor Beny Maissner’s contributions before he becomes Cantor Emeritus. Join us at the concert MUSIC AND ART: LIVING MEMORY on Wednesday, November 6th in the sanctuary starting at 7 PM.

Cantor Maissner was enormously moved by the research project of Maestro Francesco Lotoro, the Italian pianist and musicologist, who brings to life music composed in the concentration camps. This emotional and meaningful concert is one that Cantor Maissner sought to bring to Holy Blossom as a testament to the ability of music and art to preserve and transmit memory, demonstrate survival and resilience, and inspire future generations.

This concert could not have been possible without the generous sponsorship of Esther and Marvin Tile, and Mary Seldon and Family.

The program, during Holocaust Education Week, weaves together a number of different elements and Holocaust stories.

  • Maestro Francesco Lotoro performs music of unfamiliar composers. Some survived, some didn’t, but their music lives on through Lotoro’s research. He will be ably supported by Cantor Maissner (voice), Moshe Hammer (violin) and Igor Gefter (cello). Hammer is an internationally recognized performer whom Holy Blossom congregants know well from Kol Nidrei, and Igor Gefter is a prize-winning musician with the Toronto Symphony.
  • The “Victory March” from the children’s opera Brundibar, performed more than 50 times in the horrible ghetto conditions of Terezin, is sung by a youth ensemble. Not only are there young people from Holy Blossom and from The Leo Baeck Day School performing, but the Cantor’s own grandchildren will also take part. Some young-adult performers from the first Toronto production 20 years ago are returning for this special occasion. (Renee Bouthot, conductor, and Igor Kurtzman, accompanist). A special guest will be HB congregant John Freund who brought the idea of the production to Toronto decades ago; he actually auditioned for the opera in Terezin and was one of only 300 children who survived.
  • Cantor Maissner will reflect on a particular musical and cantorial heritage by performing songs of his uncle, Israel Alter. Known as the “cantor’s cantor”, he was the last chief cantor of Hanover Germany and left the country in 1935.
  • Finally, members of Holy Blossom congregation and students from its religious school have created Gates of Memory, a community art project, devised by artists Eva Ormut and Beth Roher, both HB members. Young singers will pass through the Gates of Memory, on their way to sing and to stir us with the ‘Victory March.”

The concert is free and open to all. Registration is available online:

This is a very special year for the Cantor as so many of you have already acknowledged by attending Selichot reception and services, raising your voices through the High Holy Days, and asking to volunteer and to help out with the celebrations. There will be many opportunities to do more after this concert in anticipation of the last big event of the year, a wonderful extravaganza of tribute on WEDNESDAY JUNE 10th.  Mark the date in your calendars now.

Susan Cohen & Helena Fine
Cantor’s Celebrations Committee, Co-Chairs

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