Westminster Abbey


80th anniversary of Kristallnacht with a special service to be attended by survivors and members of the Jewish and Christian communities. The service will include music from Zemel Choir.

Armistice Day Concert

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Meet Nicky Gluch

2018/19 Zemel Junior Conducting Fellow

Nicky Gluch is looking forward to working with the Zemel Choir as Junior Conducting Fellow after having made a big impression with us at the 2017 Lewandowsky Festival in Berlin. Nicky made her conducting debut with the Eastern Sydney Chamber Orchestra and has since gone on to conduct choral-orchestral projects of her own. Having undertaken a Masters degree, Nicky’s interests include exploring aspects of conducting in the 21st Century and this year Nicky started working on her PhD. 

EUAJC

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Zemel Gallery > Armistice Concert

“It’s exciting to hear a hundred voices sing aloud what I’ve had in my head all these months! ‘Armistice’, received its world premiere on Sunday 18th November. The 40-minute oratorio was performed by the Zemel Choir and the Royal Free Music Society and accompanied by members of the Wallace Ensemble, conducted by Wolf. They were joined by soloists, Charlotte-Anne Shipley (sop) and Edmund Hastings (tenor). ‘Armistice’ was composed especially for this concert to mark 100 years since the end of World War One – and to remember the millions of war dead. The oratorio’s text is taken from haunting First World War poems and sacred funerary texts all set to original music, combined with arrangements of World War 1 songs. “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,” says Wolf. He has selected the powerful words of war poets Laurence Binyon (“For the Fallen”), John McCrae, who wrote one of the most popular wartime poems “In Flanders Field” following the death of a friend in battle, and Charles Hamilton Sorley (“When You See Millions of the Mouthless Dead”), who died when he was just twenty - one of the more than 80,000 Allied and German casualties at the 1915 Battle of Loos. “The poets were responding to what they saw at the time and I’ve set the poems mainly as solo arias. I wanted to use the First World War songs differently - as comments, or representations of the soldiers themselves singing. I was partly inspired by the way that Tippett uses spirituals in ‘A Child of Our Time’, so the new music is interspersed with familiar melodies which have their own impact.” The work sees new arrangements of “Keep the Home Fires Burning”, “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” and “Roses of Picardy” – songs popular with both wartime soldiers and their loved ones back home, and familiar to modern-day audiences as well. “I enjoyed arranging the First World War songs,” says Wolf. “The songs have their own identity, and although they aren’t inherently cheerful, they are in a popular style and provide a lighter element. Some of the poems are pretty hard – and the music is meant to be a contemplative, it’s not cheerful. In terms of style, I would say that the whole piece is fairly accessible but within the traditions of Twentieth Century music.” Wolf, who is 41, lives in North London. He studied at Oxford University, Trinity College of Music, King’s College London and Royal Holloway. He is now Senior Lecturer in Music at Regent’s University, London. This is his first long choral work. Previous compositions include music for concert hall and theatre, including two concertos. His main focus has been on Jewish music – and in ‘Armistice’ Wolf includes a beautiful section in Hebrew. “There is one movement that combines religious funeral texts - from the Book of Common Prayer and from Psalm 144 which is sung in Hebrew. I included this partly because the Zemel Choir is performing and partly because November 18th is also AJEX (The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women) Day, which commemorates Jewish servicemen in both world wars. So it still has that memorial element, but it is not completely located in World War 1.” The concert took place at 7.30pm on Sunday 18th November at the Free Church, Hampstead Garden Suburb. It also included the tender and haunting ‘The Spirit of England’ by Sir Edward Elgar and music by Ravel, Schubert and Finzi.