Home #Hwoodtimes A Moving 30th Anniversary Celebration for the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony

A Moving 30th Anniversary Celebration for the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony

Dr. Noreen Green Conducts The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony (Photo By Sheldon Botler)

At the Wilshire Boulevard Temple on the Resnick Family Campus, Dr. Noreen Green and violinist Mark Kashper brought out the best in LAJS in an evening highlighted by talented guest vocalists.

By John Lavitt

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 04-16-2024

On a rainy Sunday evening, Dr. Noreen Green, the Founding Artistic Director and Conductor of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony since the ensemble’s creation in 1994, brought the sunshine of hope and faith to the sanctuary of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple. In the Resnick Family Campus’s packed sanctuary on Sunset Boulevard, Dr. Green led her talented orchestra in a series of pieces that reflected the group’s history and mission. From the opening piece to the closing song, the diverse offerings highlighted the value of the LAJS as a part of the Los Angeles cultural landscape.

As the orchestra played, a representative mix of vocal artists sang classic Jewish songs from traditional religious composers to Broadway offerings. Lisa Peicott, the Senior Cantor of Wilshire Boulevard Temple since October 2023, showed her versatility and UCLA musical training with a beautiful version of Leonard Bernstein’s “Dream With Me”. It was a lovely performance.

With a passionate and determined voice, Cantor Ilan Davidson, President of the LA County Commission on Human Relations, delivered a rousing “Shir Lashalom” by Yair Rosenblum. Arranged by Aaron Zigman, “The Song for Peace” is famous for having been sung by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin during a positive and supportive rally just before he was assassinated. It remains to this day an anthem of the Israeli peace movement.

Cantor Lisa Peicott, Eden Kontesz, And Cantor Ilan Davidson Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of LAJS (Photo By Sheldon Botler)

The last of the guest vocalists was very special indeed. Thirteen-year-old singer/actress Eden Kontesz has performed in recognized venues since she was five. As an LAJS Young Artist, Eden Kontesz confidently took the stage and sang a beautiful rendition of Light A Candle with music by Tzvika Pik and lyrics by Yoav Ginay. With years of experience already in her back pocket, the teenager displayed her enthusiasm and the power of her voice.

Dr. Green relished the opportunity to bring so many talented singers and musicians together, “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Wilshire Blvd Temple, in the room where it all started for the LAJS. The newly remodeled Sanctuary at the Brentwood campus was the site of our debut concert! Wonderful memories of our early years flood my soul, and I look forward to sharing those memories and creating new ones.”

Soloist Mark Kashper Plays Shony Alex Braun’s Symphony Of The Holocaust (Photo By Sheldon Botler)

Amid the many wonderful new memories, the finest moment came when Dr. Green led the LAJS in the evening’s featured work “Symphony of the Holocaust.” Composed by Holocaust

survivor Shony Alex Braun (1930-2002), the work was crafted from the melodies he composed in his head during his time in the World War II concentration camps. He worked closely with Maestra Green during the later years of his life on the piece.

The subject of a well-reviewed documentary of the same name, the filmed performance features the LAJS, conducted by Maestra Green, with Founding Concertmaster Mark Kashper as

violin soloist. With Dr. Noreen Green taking over as conductor during the 30th Anniversary Celebration, Mark Kashper took on the challenge of the solo piece. Indeed, his playing was the most memorable moment of the night.

The Kashper solos felt like a Concentration Camp prisoner’s soft, plaintive wail. Although he desperately wants to connect with God and ask why such horror is being allowed to happen, he knows that his voice cannot be raised because it would mean certain death. Revealing the wealth of emotion represented by the music of a violin, the fragile beauty of the Kashper solos brought tears to the eyes of the listeners. Once again, the people in the sanctuary knew why they had come together to celebrate the miracle of being alive and expressive.

(“Symphony of the Holocaust” documentary can be screened at


Photos by Sheldon Botler (Sheldon Botler Photography)