BPS Community Events

BPS is a welcoming place, hosting all sorts of lively community events.

The Dream Passes By The Window – A Concert For Ukraine

The dream passes by the window – A concert for Ukraine

Nearly 200 people packed into the Birmingham Progressive Synagogue on Sunday November 27th to hear three talented musical ensembles. The Kol Kinor Choir began the concert.  Laurie Taylor, one of their longest serving members introduced them and their conductor and Director of Music - Jake Fifer.  Accompanied by Brian Stearn on the keyboards, they sang beautifully with a full range of voices from soprano to bass. They included some lovely arrangements of traditional prayers sung in Hebrew with great precision and emotional sensitivity.  Having worked together for many years, they looked and sounded like a confident professional choir. 

They were followed by the Knowle Male Voice Choir who were introduced by Denis Barnfield in a cheerful manner as "a bunch of reprobates".   Again, expertly conducted by Jake Fifer, who must take a lot of credit for producing two choirs of this standard, they were able to produce that full bodied rich swell of sound that we associate with similar choirs from Wales.  Some favourites from Les Miserables were sung with gusto and greeted with pleasure.  Perhaps more surprising and impressive was their ability to bring tears to the eyes with a quiet harmonious rendition of Ose Shalom. 

The third group, The Kataklezmics, provided contrast to the evening in jaunty hats, and carrying their instruments on stage, they looked like the sort of travelling band that would have played at weddings and festivals in Eastern Europe. Klezmer music, Joyce Rothschild told us, has its roots there. Their standard of playing was excellent and the instruments - accordion, flute, cello, clarinet, violins and viola complemented each other. The repertoire chosen was mostly upbeat and even humorous pieces that invited dance, though for health and safety reasons (and age!) we restricted ourselves to clapping and cheering.  Instrumental solos were virtuoso and there was some fine singing in one number. 

The evening was punctuated by video footage of on the ground work being conducted in Ukraine. Nick Wormald who instigated this work, gave a short speech explaining what had already been achieved and what our concert proceeds would be used for in funding future projects. He was warmly applauded for the courage and energy he has put into initialising and sustaining this work.  

The concert raised over £2,700 which will be shared between this charity and World Jewish Relief Ukraine Appeal. 

At the end of the evening, Jake promised us a surprise number.  Olga Popova from Ukraine took the stage, and accompanied by the two choirs, sang the solo part of the Ukrainian lullaby (Oy Khodit Son – The Dream Passes By The Window) in a delicate and clear soprano voice.  The effect in the beautiful synagogue setting was ethereal and spell-binding.  It was a reminder of the bravery of those still in Ukraine, the talents of the refugees and the generosity of those offering help to them.  Thanks to Jake Fifer, Elly Stanton and Joyce Rothschild for organising this concert and all those who helped, as well as to the excellent musicians who performed so well for us all. 

Mark Pearson