MANCHESTER DIARY
Alex enjoys eine Klein nachtmusik

ALEX Klein has been involved with Jewish music for more than 50 years.

But a recent concert in Lithuania was one of the highlights in a half-century of promoting chazzanut.

“It was one of the most uplifting concert experiences that I have been part of,” said Alex, of Prestwich.

The 67-year-old sat on the advisory board for The Night Project, which was performed in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad and Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital. It was put together by Jerry Glantz, son of the late cantor, composer and innovator Leib Glantz.

“It brought together Jews and non-Jews to tell a painful story of the past through music, inspiration and beautiful words and music,” Alex explained. The Lithuania concert, at St John’s Church, told the story of the Holocaust through the words of survivor Elie Wiesel and the music of Cantor Glantz, as well as the Kaliningrad Symphony Orchestra and mixed choirs from Russia and Lithuania.

“The musical arrangements were written and put together by musical genius Joseph Ness and behind the choir was a huge screen with explanations in English, German and Russian,” added Alex, who is chairman of the European Cantors’ Association.

“To listen to the voice of Glantz over the orchestra with the choir was pure genius.

“The finale incorporated the voices of Leib Glantz, cantor Daniel Mutlu, the choir and orchestra in a bring-the-house-down moment of the haunting Shema Yisrael to a standing ovation.

“The whole thing would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the help and collaboration of Mathias Dusterhoft, a non-Jewish engineer from Berlin.

“He said that Jewish people had inspired him and he put every effort into making sure the concerts actually happened.”

There is a family link to Vilnius for Alex, too, as his wife Yvonne’s grandparents, Betty and Harry Pack, came from the city.

Father-of-two and grandfather-of-three Alex spent three days in the Lithuanian capital.

He said: “It seems to have lost its Jewish heart as there didn’t seem to be much in the way of Jewish life, besides a few plaques.

“There is still one active shul there, the Vilnius Choral Synagogue.”

Alex has spent years trying to inspire young Jews to go into the chazzanut profession.

“It is about bringing back real synagogue music to where it rightly belongs,” he added.

He is also hoping that the next European Cantors’ Association’s meeting will be held in the German city of Hanover, around November.

And Alex would like The Night Project to be performed there, too.


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