Concert of WWI poems composed by Jewish musician to premier on AJEX day
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Concert of WWI poems composed by Jewish musician to premier on AJEX day

'Armistice' will be held on 18 November, including a section in Hebrew and performed by the Zemel Choir and the Royal Free Music Society

Choir rehearsal at St. John's Wood Church in London
Choir rehearsal at St. John's Wood Church in London

A concert composed by a Jewish musician using First World War poems is to premiere in Hampstead Garden Suburb next month, on the day the community honours the Jewish ex-service men and women who died fighting.

The 40-minute oratorio, composed by Dr Benjamin Wolf and performed by 100 singers, will be held on 18 November – AJEX (Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women) Day – and includes a beautiful section in Hebrew.

‘Armistice’ will be one of several events marking 100 years since the end of the First World War, and will be performed by the Zemel Choir and the Royal Free Music Society, accompanied by members of the Wallace Ensemble.

Wolf, 41, who is based in north London and is the musical director for all three choirs, said: “It’s a contemplative work and the songs and poems have been carefully arranged so they feed into each other. It doesn’t tell a narrative story but hopefully it tells an emotional story.”

In memory of the millions who died, the oratorio’s text is taken from haunting First World War poems and sacred funerary texts set to original music, combined with arrangements of songs from the Great War.

Wolf lectures in music at Regent’s University, London and said his normal focus is Jewish music, adding that there is one movement in ‘Armistice’ that combines religious funeral texts, (from the Book of Common Prayer and from Psalm 144) sung in Hebrew.

“I included this partly because the Zemel Choir is performing and partly because 18 November is AJEX Day, which commemorates those who died in both world wars, so it still has that memorial element, but it is not completely located in 1918.”

Tickets are available at https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/rfms.

The concert starts at 7.30pm at the Free Church, Hampstead Garden Suburb, which includes the “tender and haunting” piece ‘Spirit of England’ by Sir Edward Elgar and music by Ravel, Schubert and Finzi.

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