Central Concert a huge hit

October 21, 2010 by J-Wire Staff
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Central Synagogue was transformed from a prayer hall into a concert hall on Wednesday night for the annual Symphony For The Soul concert.

Cantors Dov Farkas, Shimon Farkas, David Helgott and Yehuda Niasoff

A giant stage holding the 43-strong Sydney International Orchestra was erected between the bimah and the ark; the bimah was bedecked in state-of-the-art lights and a sound mixer was stationed where the Torah scroll normally sits.

More than 1000 people crammed into the sanctuary to listen to Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, a world-renowned chazan who serves at Park East Synagogue in Manhattan; Central Synagogue’s own Cantor Shimon Farkas; his son Dov Farkas, who serves at Caulfield Hebrew Congregation in Melbourne; Yehuda Niasoff, also from Central; and Ilan Kidron, an award-winning singer/songwriter who often leads Friday night services at Emanuel Synagogue.

Among the highlights of the two-and-a-half hour concert was Chazan Farkas dedicating the song Im Eshkachech (If I forget Thee O Jerusalem) to Frank Lowy, who is celebrating his 80th birthday this week.

Cantor Farkas, who flew to New York recently with his son Dov to sing this song at a Lowy family wedding, said Frank Lowy was known as chairman of Westfield, the head of football in Australia and “a famous Australian” in the media.

“But at Central Synagogue, we know him as Pinchas Yonah,” he said.

After the song, Cantor Farkas invited the audience to sing Happy Birthday to Lowy, who was sat alongside Harry Triguboff and his daughter, Rabbi Orna Triguboff.

Both the Lowy and Triguboff families were the major sponsors of the night.

But it was Cantor Helfgot’s stirring rendition of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma that triggered a standing ovation from many in the audience.

The concert was conducted by Israeli-born Dr Mordechai Sobol, a leading force in Jewish liturgical music, who passed the baton intermittently to his son, Ofir Sobol.

Interspersed between many of the songs was video commentary by Dr Sobol about the late Moshe Koussevitzky, who is regarded by many as “the Chazan’s Chazan”.

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