By Jeff Baker.
On Sunday, October 30, 2016, the “Lachan chamber” choir and members of the Holy Blossom Temple singers were invited to perform at an interfaith concert hosted by the Presbyterian church of Saint Andrews in Brampton.
Our choir had prepared for this concert beginning in the spring due to the heavy high holiday concert schedule in the fall. Cantor Maissner put together a repertoire that included both old and New music, reflecting diverse influences from both Israel and the diaspora.
There were two other groups invited to perform. The contrast with our choir was both very stark and very illuminating. Firstly, there was a Coptic Christian choral group. They wrote their own music and, using pre-arranged background tracks, featured very warm and traditional middle eastern influenced songs in both Coptic and Arabic.
Secondly, there was a performance from Sufi Muslim congregation musicians. The presentation was completely mesmerizing: the instrumentation and style of music lent it self perfectly to the dervish dancers who spun themselves into a meditative trance.
There was a vocalist prominently featured in the Sufi group who was reminiscent of very old Muslim and Arab singers. By wonderful coincidence, Cantor Maissner was able to pick out a melody that was used in one of the Sufi pieces and relate it back to an ancient Jewish Melody. Before our final few pieces at the end of the concert the cantor sang both versions. It was an excellent tie together of two ancient musical traditions!
The very last piece of all was a wonderful rendition of “O Canada” performed by all of the groups and leaders together. It was a perfect finish for this occasion – celebrating our uniqueness but also our common bond as Canadians.