Chorus seeks singers to perform Jewish sacred work

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The performance of "Avodath hakodesh," conducted by Oakland East Bay Symphony music director Michael Morgan, assisted by Oakland Symphony Chorus director Magen Solomon, is the result of a collaboration between the symphony and the East Bay federation.

Morgan and symphony chairman and president Lloyd Silver, a federation activist and former board member, were discussing how they could plan an event to benefit both organizations. Morgan came up with Bloch's sacred service, done entirely in Hebrew.

Noting that the work by the Swiss-born Jewish composer is not part of the standard symphony repertoire, Silver said the symphony is known for being innovative.

"We play pieces that other symphonies wouldn't dream of playing," he said. "We'll take a risk."

The next step involves soliciting singers from the Jewish community — for the Bloch piece — or for the entire season. Those auditioning to sing only the sacred service will have to meet the same standards of musicianship as others in the all-volunteer choir.

"Magen Solomon is a fantastic musician who has worked wonders with our chorus and built our standards up to a whole new level," said Lolly Lewis, symphony chorus executive director.

"This is going to be no exception. We are looking for singers who meet our standards. We are hopeful that people who come in to audition for Bloch will want to stay with us and sing some more."

In addition, all singers are asked to support the chorus financially. Dues for members of the Jewish community singing just the Bloch piece will be discounted. Singers who wish to qualify for discounted chorus membership are asked to register with Jamie Hyams at the East Bay federation, (510) 839-2900. Lewis said the chorus particularly needs male singers.

Rehearsals are held from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays at St. Peter's Episcopal Church.

Those interested in auditioning — or those who just like to sing — can join Morgan in an informal "Summer Sing-In" of the Bloch work at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16 at the Mormon Temple Auditorium, 4780 Lincoln Ave. Oakland. Cost is $5. Other upcoming sing-ins, also at 7 p.m. Wednesdays at the Mormon Temple Auditorium, include Brahms' "Requiem," conducted by Morgan on Aug. 23, and Fauré's "Requiem" and Bach's "Magnificat," conducted by Sharon Paul on Aug. 30. For information, call (510) 444-5767.