Zemel’s Previous Conductors
Australian conductor Geoffrey Simon has appeared in London with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Chamber Orchestra and the English Chamber Orchestra. He has conducted orchestras and opera in the United States, Russia, Germany, Austria, Holland, Spain, Israel, Japan, China and Australia.
Since 1997 he has been Music Director of the Northwest Mahler Festival in Seattle. He was Music Director of the London’s Zemel Choir from 1974-8 and has been Music Director of the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra (Indiana), Albany Symphony Orchestra (New York), Sacramento Symphony (California) and the Orquestra Simfònica de Balears “Ciutat de Palma” in Mallorca.
Geoffrey was a student of Herbert von Karajan, Rudolf Kempe, Hans Swarowsky and Igor Markevich, and a major prize-winner at the first John Player International Conductors’ Competition, with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. While in California, in addition to performing the classical literature, Geoffrey Simon developed orchestral programming spanning some twenty non-European cultures. This led to a Millennium concert at London’s Commonwealth Institute with his ensemble the London Cello Orchestra, before HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and diplomats from every Commonwealth country.
His first recording was Bloch’s Sacred Service with the Zemel Choir and the London Symphony Orchestra. He has now made over forty recordings, mostly for his own label Cala Records. Combining familiar music with discoveries, they are played by most classical music radio stations worldwide.
Antony Saunders has been described in the London Press as “one of the country’s foremost accompanists” and again “as much a born duo-player as we have produced.” His solo performances have also brought him critical praise. He has played for musicians of the highest calibre, including the late Jack Brymer, the late Owen Brannigan Sir Thomas Allen. Sir Willard White, Ann Murray and Robert Tear. Recitals have taken him both sides of the Atlantic and he is an experienced broadcaster (radio and television); participation in many music festivals has included Edinburgh and the London Proms.
A skilled arranger for voices, his published work includes an arrangement for mixed voices and piano, of Malcolm Williamson’s English lyrics, written for Zemel and published by Weinberger (through the encouragement of the composer) and Three Gershwin Settings, published by Camden Music, which have been performed with great success as far afield as Singapore. Two of these (Fascinating Rhythm and Love walked in) have been released on CD by the Bath Camerata, under the direction of their conductor, Nigel Perrin.
His love of choral music led him to the conductorship of the late Bruckner-Mahler Choir, the London Chamber Singers, before taking over the Zemel from 1979 to 1983
Since moving from London to the West Country, Antony has devoted more time to teaching, while founding the Yeovil Chamber Choir, and recalling almost forgotten skills as an organist! – He was a pupil of the late, great C.H.Trevor. He is an alumnus of the Royal Academy of Music, of which he has been elected an Associate, and where he was until recently a professor. He continues to give tutorials in piano-accompaniment at the Birmingham Conservatoire and still is called upon as a recitalist.
Antony began his association with Zemel at the time of the choir’s 25th anniversary and was involved with their silver jubilee celebrations. He is proud to be part of this, their “golden” celebration!
The composer and conductor, Malcolm Singer, is Director of Music at the Yehudi Menuhin School, and a professor of Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He read music at Magdalene College, Cambridge before studying in Europe with both Nadia Boulanger and Gyorgy Ligeti. He was later awarded a Harkness Fellowship, spending two years at Stanford University, California. In 1995, a “portrait” concert of his music was given in Cologne, and in 2003 there was a 50th Birthday Concert of his music given in St. John’s, Smith Square, London.
Malcolm is very active in the Jewish musical community. He was Musical Director of the Zemel Choir from 1983-1993 and has conducted the BBC Singers in several concerts of Jewish Music. Malcolm has written much music with Jewish themes. York (with libretto by the poet, Michelene Wandor) was commissioned for the 800th anniversary of massacre of the Jews at Clifford’s Tower and Kaddish was commissioned by the BBC Singers. His setting of Psalm 122 was written for the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain’s Jubilee Service, and settings of Psalm 100 and 117 were commissioned by the Zemel Choir for their 40th Anniversary Concert. Jubilate, set in Latin, was written for the St. Alban’s Chamber Choir, and The Mask of Esther (2001) was commissioned jointly by them with the Zemel Choir.
Other choral works include Psalms for Today for triple choir and Songs of Ascent for 40-part choir.
A Hopeful Place, for children’s choir, string octet and orchestra, was commissioned for Yehudi Menuhin’s 80th birthday concert in the Royal Albert Hall. Dragons, a cantata for children’s choir and orchestra has had many performances, and his most recent children’s football cantata - Perfect Pitch - was premiered in 2005 at the Barbican in London.
Robert Max enjoys a colourful career as conductor, cellist and chamber musician. He regularly conducts the Covent Garden Chamber Orchestra in Covent Garden, at the St. Jude’s Proms and in the Rye Festival. Since 2000 Robert has been invited each year to conduct the Arad Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir in western Romania including concerts broadcast on Television and he has also conducted the Oradea Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2001 he made the first of three annual visits to Tambov in Russia to conduct, give recitals and direct a week-long chamber-music academy. As a mark of gratitude for his work the Rachmaninov Institute awarded him the title of Honorary Professor. Robert has also performed as soloist and conductor with the BBC Concert Orchestra and with the Kazakh State Symphony Orchestra in Almaty.
He currently conducts the Symphony and String Orchestras at Royal Holloway, University of London. Robert was Musical Director of the Nonesuch Orchestra and the Zemel Choir from 1994-8, with whom he recorded two CDs for Olympia and toured Israel in 1996. Robert has worked with many distinguished soloists including Ralph Kirshbaum, Gyorgy Pauk, James Kirby, Richard Lester, Aled Jones, Roger Chase, David Pyatt, Tim Hugh and Nicolai Demidenko. In September 2005 he became Musical Director of the Oxford Symphony Orchestra.
Robert’s career as a solo cellist has taken him all over the UK, to the USA,
Germany, Denmark, Holland, France, Austria, Russia and Romania. As cellist of the Barbican Piano Trio for eighteen years, Robert has performed on four continents, recorded for ASV, Black Box, Dutton and Guildmusic, performed live on the BBC World Service and Radio 3 and on TV and Radio in Europe and the USA. The Trio gave a Beethoven Trio Cycle in the Wigmore Hall’s Master Concert Series in 1995 which they repeated in a dozen other parts of the UK.
Two CDs of music by Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and Schnittke were released in 2001 with a further CD of chamber music by Sergei Taneyev released this year on the Dutton label. Robert was Musical Director of Pro Corda, the National School for Young Chamber Music Players from 1998 to 2000 and now coaches chamber-music at MusicWorks. He is Principal cellist of the London Chamber Orchestra.
Viv Bellos trained at Dartington College of Arts and the Royal Academy of Music where she won several prizes for singing and was awarded scholarships to further her training. A finalist in the Kathleen Ferrier Award of 1974 she made her debut Wigmore Hall recital in 1975 and appeared as soloist in all the major concert halls in London.
She became the Director of Music at the North Western Reform Synagogue in 1980. Here she founded the Alyth Choral Society, the Alyth Youth Singers, Alyth Kids Choir and the young adults choir Pandemonium as well as the youth drama group the Alyth Academy of Performing Arts. In 1986 the post of Music Consultant for the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain was created for her where she remained until 1998. Here she introduced Music Seminars and Choir Festivals and for two years ran a Jewish Music Fair as well as running workshops throughout the movement. She lectures in Jewish Music, teaches singing and gives recitals.
In 1999 she was appointed Musical Director of the Zemel Choir, the only woman to have held the post. During her four years the choir gave concerts at St Johns Smith Square, broadcast for the BBC, toured Prague and Budapest and gave concerts at the Logan Hall, War Museum and in Cambridge.