Sophie Ross tells the story behind Minim, the exciting new choir taking the Jewish choral world by storm.

Minim co-founders Sophie Ross & Aaron Isaac

Minim co-founders Sophie Ross & Aaron Isaac

You might think that university holidays would be a time for some R&R after the stress of term, but not so for three students. Aaron Isaac (Goldsmiths), Gabriel Chernick (Cambridge) and myself (Oxford) have kick-started our breaks with the first performances of Minim: the brand new, pluralist, young choir singing the best of Jewish choral music.

It all started in December when I saw Aaron’s post on Facebook recruiting male singers for Rosh HaShanah services at Hendon United Synagogue. We got chatting and soon realised that there was a niche currently unfilled in the UK for a serious, young, mixed choir singing Jewish sacred music. And the rest, as they say, is history.

So in January 2014, Minim was born. Consisting of around 20 members, mainly students but also young professionals, from across the Jewish spectrum and with combined experience in many of the UK’s best choirs, what the members of our new choral collective have in common is a passion for reviving the Jewish choral tradition.

Minim LogoThis past weekend, Minim performed for the first time, with just two rehearsals under our belt!

On Friday 21st March, we sang a full set at the JW3 Friday night supper club. Our programme included our own Musical Director Gabriel Chernick’s arrangement of Lewandowski’s famous ‘Tzadik Katamar’, a Shabbat classic.

We also sang the more unusual ‘Adon Olam’ by Renaissance composer Salamone Rossi, which you may well not have recognised as Jewish music at all were it not for the Hebrew words. It is arranged for a double choir, which means the singing is in 8 parts.

Then on Saturday night, Motzei Shabbat, we really pulled out all the stops, having been invited to perform at the American a cappella group Pizmon’s concert at New North London Synagogue.

We sang the jubilant ‘Hallelujah’ – Lewandowski’s setting of Psalm 150 which also features our choir’s name, “Minim”, among the musical instruments! Here’s a video of the performance:

We’ve received lots of positive feedback from those who attended our concerts online and in person and we have some exciting plans in the pipeline.

It is certainly a lot of work but it is worth it for the joy of performing this fantastic music and bringing it to a wider audience. Watch this space!