Great concert for the Great

February 7, 2012 by Fraser McEwing
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Sydney’s The Great Synagogue, with its unique acoustics and history going back to 1875, will change its role briefly on 1st April for a special classical music concert. The Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra will play an unusual program of music linked to Jewish composers.

The event has been organised by Stevie Whitmont (a member of the shule and a clarinettist with the orchestra) and shule board member Dr David Rosenwax.
Highlight of the twilight concert will be a performance of the Hummel Grand Bassoon Concerto in F with soloist Kim Walker, a world-class bassoonist and, until recently, Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
The orchestra will be conducted by Anthony Clarke, who is building a formidable international reputation, especially in China, where he is principal conductor of the Foshan Philharmonic Orchestra and the Xining Symphony Orchestra.
The program promises something for all classical music tastes.
In addition to the Hummel concerto Kim Walker will play Bruch’s famous Kol Nidrei (originally written for cello but transcribed for Bassoon by Kim Walker).
The concert will include Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, Kats-Chernin’s Innocent Clouds, Saint Saens’ Danse Macabre, Duffy’s three Jewish Portraits and Leonard Bernstein’s On the town (three dance episodes).
In order to accommodate the orchestra, soloist and conductor, a platform will be built forward of the synagogue’s bimah.
Among the distinguished guests will be the U.S. Consul General and the former New South Wales premier, Bob Carr, who will introduce the music and talk about his involvement with the shule.
At the conclusion of the concert premium ticket holders will be invited to supper in the Israel Green Auditorium.
Ticket prices are $80 (supper included), $60, and $30 for pensioners. Members of the Great Synagogue will receive a ten per cent discount.
The date is 1st April 2012, 5.00 to 7.30 pm.
For enquiries and bookings phone (02) 9363 1154, 9363 2352 or email


Sydney’s Great Synagogue was designed by Thomas Rowe in 1875 and built in 1878. It is acknowledged as one of Sydney's most beautiful heritage buildings. The Great Synagogue has remained the Jewish cathedral of Sydney, though today high-rise buildings on either side tend to squash its exterior majesty. The growth of the Jewish community and its suburban dispersal has brought the establishment of many other synagogues but The Great has retained its stateliness and solemnity, while its busy program of services and activities is supported by a loyal congregation and provides, together with the city churches of other denominations, a serene spiritual oasis in the midst of the bustling life of the city.


Australian born Anthony Clarke has extensive experience at the national and international level. In addition to being an outstanding violinist, he has conducted orchestras in Italy, Corsica, China and Australia, and is currently the principal guest conductor and artistic advisor to the Pearl River Symphony Orchestra as well as principal conductor of the Foshan Philharmonic Orchestra and the Xining Symphony Orchestra. Anthony divides his time between overseas conducting commitments and Sydney-based academic pursuits. He has been conducting the community-based Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra for the past year.

Professor Kim Walker is a celebrated bassoonist, a prolific recording artist, and a distinguished educationalist /administrator. She has performed with the world’s leading orchestras, and with conductors such as Ashkenazy and Bernstein. She has been featured at prestigious world music festivals, displaying a talent for both classical and contemporary music. She was trained in Scotland, America and Europe, where she won the “Premier Prix de Virtuosite” (1982) at the Conservatoire de Musique de Geneva. Kim joined the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2004, where she held the post of dean for seven years.


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