The Zemel Choir’s Musical Director-Benjamin Wolf
Benjamin Wolf studied at University College, Oxford, Trinity College of Music and King’s College, London. As orchestral conductor he performs regularly with The Wallace Ensemble, a young professional orchestra of which he is co-founder. Activities with this orchestra have included a first CD (recorded in summer 2007), a concert of Israeli/orchestral klezmer music at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the inaugural Wallace Ensemble composition prize. He has conducted for the BBC Proms, and participated in masterclasses with Benjamin Zander and the London Soloists Chamber Orchestra, Kenneth Montgomery and the National Symphony Orchestra of Lithuania, and Stephen Cleobury and the BBC Singers.
Since becoming Musical Director of The Zemel Choir in 2003, he has performed at venues including the Queen Elizabeth Hall, St John’s, Smith Square, St James’ Church, Piccadilly and the Victoria and Albert Museum. In January 2005 he conducted The Zemel Choir in a special edition of the BBC’s Songs of Praise, and in November of the same year he conducted the choir in its 50th anniversary concert at St John’s Smith Square. Recent engagements have included a concert at the Purcell Room, a European tour and the Zemel Choir’s new festival, Celebrate with Song, at St John’s, Smith Square. He is Musical Director of the Rushmoor Choir of Aldershot, and regularly conducts the Quorum Chamber Choir, with whom he has toured Tuscany and Cornwall. Since 2006 he has been Choirmaster at Belsize Square Synagogue.
Increasingly active as a composer, his work Siren Song (set to a text from Homer’s Odyssey) has recently been performed at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Magdalen College, Oxford and King’s College, London. Previous commissions include the incidental music for an adaptation of Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market at the Southwark Playhouse, and for Frederic Lonsdale’s Canaries Sometime Sing (performed in London and France in 2003). He has written a number of pieces for the Zemel Choir, and his first piano concerto, L’Chaim, was performed by The Wallace Ensemble in 2003. He has been commissed to write a cello concerto (entitled Etz Chayim) for the 70th anniversary of Belsize Square synagogue, which will receive its first performance in March 2009.
As pianist, he performs regularly with a number of singers and instrumentalists, including tenor Marc Finer and mezzo-soprano Ruti Halvani. He has also played for cantors Robert Brody, Avromi Freilich and Yitschak Meir Helfgott.
In addition to his work as a performer, in the summer of 2010 he was awarded a PhD in the social history of twentieth-century music.
The Zemel Choir’s Assistant Musical Director-Maureen Creese
Maureen Creese studied at The Royal College of Music where she gained the GRSM Degree. She found herself much in demand accompanist and now divides her time between teaching and performing. As well as choral training, one of Maureen’s main interests is Opera. She has been associated with the Harrow Opera Workshop for a number of years.
Maureen joined The Zemel Choir in 1976, initially as its accompanist and has now worked with six of the Choir’s Musical Directors. In 1979 she was appointed Assistant Musical Director, has toured extensively with the Choir,and has appeared at all its major concerts both in England and abroad.
During the 1993-1994 season, Maureen successfully stepped in as Acting Musical Director while the Choir sought a new permanent appointment. She conducted a number of concerts during this time, including the Commonwealth Day Observance at Westminster Abbey, where she was honoured by being presented to H.M. The Queen. .
Again in 1998/99 Maureen fulfilled the position of Acting Musical Director, after the resignation of Robert Max and before the appointment of Vivienne Bellos as Musical Director. She continues to give loyal support as Assistant Musical Director to the Choir’s current Musical Director Benjamin Wolf, and as its regular accompanist.