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Drawing Life


DUDLEY COHEN-Founder of the Zemel Choir

Dudley Cohen attended the City of London School and the Guildhall School of Music. He formed a youth choir, the first to bear the name Zemel (Tsafon Ma’arav London) in 1948 which lasted for about eighteen months. After his National Service, during which time he played the clarinet in the RAF Fighter Command Central Band, and acted as Asst. Bandmaster, he reformed the Zemel Choir in 1955 where he was its conductor and Musical Director until 1975.

Dudley was the first Director of Music at Carmel College and the founder of the Carmel Boys Choir, which functioned from 1957 until 1959. He has also held the post of choirmaster and organist at various synagogues including the Hampstead Synagogue, one of the last bastions of the mixed choir within the United Synagogue. A champion of mixed voice choirs in synagogues, for the past twenty-two years he was in charge of the choir at West London Synagogue’s overflow service, a choir that has been described as the “Purest Church Choir within the Anglo-Jewish Community”!

From 1974 until he retired in 1994, he held the post of Director of Music at the Hampstead School where his symphony orchestras, wind bands and in particular his girls choirs, were regularly selected to perform at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the National Festival of Youth and Music.

He has composed a great deal of music, including pieces for school orchestras, choirs and chamber groups, a dozen musicals for school and youth productions, about two hundred choral arrangements and compositions, and countless pieces of liturgical music for the synagogue service. Recently he has composed a number of pieces based on traditional Jewish and Hassidic ideas for string quartet, which have been used as part of the wedding ceremony.