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Sunday, December 28, 2014

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Violinist and cantor give spellbinding performance

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Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, left, and violinist Yitzhak Perlman

TORONTO — The sold-out Sing for the Children benefit concert for Chai Lifeline brought together the internationally acclaimed violinist, Yitzhak Perlman, and celebrated cantor, Yitzchak Meir Helfgot.

The melding of Perlman’s soulful sounds and skilful mastery of the violin combined with Helfgot’s spellbinding tenor gave the audience at the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto an exceptional experience of communication between violin and voice.

From the rousing opening of Shalom Aleichem, the program of Yiddish folksongs, chassidic melodies, eastern European Jewish folk music, cantorial masterpieces and spirited klezmer music had the enthusiastic audience clapping in appreciation of the master musicians.

Helfgot’s rendition of My Yiddishe Momme, together with Perlman’s serenely splendid playing, was an emotional trip for young and old alike.

Helfgot’s interpretation of R’tzeh, a pleading prayer from the daily liturgy; Mizmor L’Dovid, the Psalm of David traditionally sung on the Sabbath, and the joyful Yiddish folk song A Dudele (A Song to You) provided evidence of the unique art form that is the young cantor’s singing.

The accompanying orchestra, comprising 25 musicians from the Klezmer Conservatory Band and the Eternal Echoes Chamber Orchestra, was conducted by Russell Ger and performed arrangements written by Hankus Netsky.

Laura Lowenberg, 18, a special guest from Montreal, spoke of her four-year battle with a rare brain cancer. She had two major surgeries, followed by a stroke. She paid tribute to Chai Lifeline and its many volunteers and programs that helped her and her family through the devastating ordeal. The brave, articulate teenager received a standing ovation.

The money raised at the sixth annual Chai Lifeline concert on March 11 will provide support for children with severe illnesses and their families.

As people left the concert hall, one could hear many express their enthusiasm for the concert. “It was the greatest concert. It was spectacular,” one audience member was overheard to say.


Related: Chai Lifeline helps sick children and parents

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