Classics at Dusk - Review

Review by Marie and Tom Su 

‘Classics at Dusk’ was a program of music performed to celebrate 75 years of The North Shore Synagogue. The Garden Shul, as it is known, has been operating in a religious, social and cultural capacity for the Jewish people in the quiet leafy suburb of Lindfield since 1940, so it was time for a celebration in this culturally rich community. 

The first part of the program celebrated the religious and traditional aspects of the Jewish culture. Cantor Ziv Teichtahl capably set the traditional tone with the rich warmth of his tenor voice. His performance of folksong and prayers put to music followed a theme referring to God’s promise to protect his people. 

The string quartet and piano performances from young and musically mature musicians were standout. The first violin, Ben Adler, was quite remarkable, while Joseph Eisinger’s cello was gentle, mellow and at times, lyrical. Angela Cassar’s second violin enhanced the depth of performance and Elizabeth Woolnough’s command of the viola provided the dexterity that evoked the emotional transcendence that traditional Jewish music transmits, while Samantha Coates’ piano virtuosity showed her experience and emotional range. Dr Joseph Toltz’s arrangements of the pieces as Musical Director of the celebrations, allowed the music to really connect with the enthusiastic audience of committed Jewish patrons and gentiles alike. 

Simon Tedeschi’s performance at the event was a perfect addition to the 75th celebrations. He performed Gershwin’s compositions inside the beautiful synagogue, which was beautiful in its 1940s authenticity, chandeliers and all. Tedeschi’s piano rendition of Gershwin was an ethereal vehicle which took us back to the 1940s time period, and the venue shaped the sound. It was very evocative, and so incredibly powerful. He engaged with the audience and he brought to life Gershwin’s own composition with respect to the composer, and personal power. Tedeschi’s own arrangements of Gershwin pieces, such as the famed Summertime, proved what an accomplished maestro he is to perfectly interpret, yet encapsulate the spirit of Gershwin, and mark the occasion. 

All the performers were skilled, thoughtful and passionate in their celebrations of this significant anniversary. The venue was beautiful and appropriate in providing a setting for such a wonderful occasion.