The Hazzan Nathan Mendelson Music Foundation
of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim was established in 1982 to honour the life and memory of Nathan Mendelson, z”l, who served as Hazzan of the Congregation for 35 years, from 1938 to 1973. He was then was appointed Hazzan Emeritus of the Congregation and continued to serve until his untimely passing on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, 1977.
Since its inception, the overall goal of the Foundation has been to keep alive the memory and influence of Hazzan Mendelson. Lawyer, ordained Rabbi, Talmudic scholar, musician and Mohel, Hazzan Mendelson had a profound impact on all members of the Congregation, and the Montreal Jewish community at large, whose lives he touched.
As described by Rabbi Wilfred Shuchat, “When Hazzan Mendelson came to Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, he brought to his responsibilities a combination of dignity, depth and authority. He was a master of Jewish liturgy. He could interpret a verse in the Siddur with the imagination of a mystic.” He composed many liturgical compositions, as well as works for special occasions, particularly in connection with the birth of the State of Israel. A number of his compositions have been published including one, Kadsheinu, which appeared in the 1999 volume of The Canadian Musical Heritage Society, and another, Rabbi Chanania Ben Akashya, that has been recorded by world-renowned Cantors. The year 1976 saw the premiere performance, in New York, of “Jerusalem: A City of Vision and Prayer,” a cantata he was commissioned to create by 10 congregations from across North America, including the Shaar.
The creation of the Hazzan Nathan Mendelson Music Foundation was largely due to the efforts of the Shaar Hashomayim’s late S. Laddie Kert, z”l, founding chair. Laddie undertook a major fundraising campaign that engaged 30 founding patrons who held Hazzan Mendelson in high esteem. New patrons have and continue to come forward. The Foundation remains true to its longstanding commitment that the capital would remain in perpetuity and only the interest would be used to subsidize or fully fund the concerts and other undertakings of the Foundation.
The Foundation Committee has developed objectives centering on performance and creativity. Thus, the Foundation both presents to the public important Jewish musical works and seeks to foster their creation.
Since its creation, the Foundation has presented twenty concerts and related Jewish musical events. These have featured choral, cantorial, operatic, and instrumental genres highlighting Canadian composers, music of the Holocaust, music of prayer as well as classical and modern repertoire, lectures and Shabbaton weekends, performed by a diversity of local, Canadian and international artists. The Foundation’s goal to foster the creation of Jewish music is reflected in its sponsorship, in 1992, of an International Jewish Song Competition, which culminated in the “Concert For Peace” featuring 17 original compositions from all over the world, many performed by the composers themselves.
In October 2007, the Foundation held a Gala concert, marking its 25th anniversary, the centenary of the birth of Hazzan Mendelson and the year in which his 30th Yahrzeit was observed.
Click here for a full bio of Hazzan Nathan Mendelson
Click here for a full bio of Hazzan Nathan Mendelson
1 Inaugural Concert: Srul Irving Glick and The Beth Tikvah Choir of Toronto – April 11, 1982
2 Professor Elaine Brody, New York University -The Jewish Connection in Nineteenth Century Music; in Cooperation with the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) Music Committee – February 6, 1983
3 Live In Concert: Attarah Hazzan, Soprano and Abraham Barak, Tenor with Professor Barry Wiesenfeld at the Piano – June 7, 1983
4 Musica Camerata Montreal featuring works by outstanding Jewish composers;co-sponsored with the CJC Jewish Music Committee in honour of Jewish Music Month – March 22, 1984
5 Rabbi Cantor Avraham Feder: Songs From the Jewish Soul –A Jewish Experience in Words and Music, with Professor Barry Wiesenfeld at the Piano – April 7, 1984
6 The Ron Am Choir with Alexander Brott, conducting; soloists Barbara Burak and Cantor Sidney S. Dworkin – April 10, 1985
7 The Classical Duo of Montreal with Erica Wilner, flute, and Davis Joachim, guitar;co-sponsored with the CJC Jewish Music Committee – June 10, 1985
8 Cello and Piano Recital featuring Leo Grinhauz, cello, and Berta Rosenohl-Grinhauz, piano;co-sponsored with The CJC Jewish Music Committee – March 20, 1986
9 Fredda Rakusin Mendelson, Mezzo-soprano and Hazzan Jacob Ben-Zion Mendelson, Tenor,with Professor Barry Wiesenfeld at the Piano – May 8, 1986
10 Shabbaton with Dr. Saul P. Wachs, musicologist and educator – May 29-30, 1987
11 Gala Concert: Great Works of Jewish Opera and Oratorio, with Judith Lechter, Beverly McGuire, Sidney S. Dworkin, Gerald Glower and Desmond Byrne –Professor Barry Wiesenfeld and Dorothy Slapcoff at the Piano – November 24, 1988
12 Music Out of the Holocaust: A Tribute to Terezin, with David Bloch, Pianist, Emilie Berendson, Mezzo-soprano,and McGill Faculty of Music String Quartet, complemented by a Montreal Holocaust Center Exhibit – February 25, 1990
13 East Meets West: A Gala Cantorial Concert with Cantors Aharon Bensoussan, Sidney S. Dworkin, David Feuer and Daniel Gildar (Piano) and Yitzchak Subar, Soloist – October 23, 1990
14 A Young Artists Recital, with Joshua Grundman, Piano, Yegor Dyachkov, Cello and Jill Rothberg, Flute,accompanied by Esfir Dyachkov, May 16, 1991
15 Concert For Peace, featuring the 15 finalists from The International Jewish Song Competition,with Peter Smolash, Associate Producer, Israeli television personality Emmanuel Halperin, Master of Ceremonies, and an orchestra conducted by Stephen Glass, Musical Director, Congregation Shaar Hashomayim – November 22, 1992
16 The Zamir Chorale of Boston with Joshua Jacobson, Music Director;in association with the Montreal Jewish Choral Weekend and the Shaar Adult Education Committee – October 15, 1994
17 Cantorial Exchange Shabbat with Cantor Jeremy Lawson of London England and the Synagogue Choir – Stephen Glass, Director of Music – June 16, 2001
18 An Evening In Concert With Kenny Karen – April 8, 2003
19 Finding Eléazar – A documentary feature film, starring Neil Shicoff, directed by Paula Heil Fisher – March 31, 2005
20 A Cantor’s Tale – film and musical presentation featuring Cantor Jack Mendelson;Congregation Shaar Hashomayim’s Cantor Emeritus Sidney Dworkin, Cantor Gideon Zelermyer, and Stephen Glass, Director of Music, with the Synagogue Choir – November 7, 2005
21 Voice of the Cantor: From Shtetl to Stage
21 Voice of the Cantor: From Shtetl to Stage– A multi-media concert featuring Cantor Asher Hainovitz, Yeshurun Central Synagogue, Jerusalem; Cantor Gideon Zelermyer, Congregation Shaar Hashomayim; Rabbi Dr. Allan Nadler, Narrator; the Synagogue Choir, and Stephen Glass, Director of Music – June 13, 2011