It’s well past 10 p.m. on a Wednesday evening, and the halls of Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) are filled with the sounds of creativity. In one room of the Encino Conservative congregation, the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony winds down its rehearsal, packing up instruments as its musicians prepare, finally, to go home.
On May 16, 2003, a series of suicide bombings struck Casablanca. The target: Jews. Luckily, the suicide bombers were not particularly savvy, and the Jewish targets they struck were empty for Shabbat. Although no Jews were killed, nearly 30 Muslims died as a result of the blasts.
Arts and entertainment briefs.
This was the high-energy moment, the "money shot" of an outreach program run by the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony (LAJS). Attended by about 700 fourth- and fifth-graders from Jewish day schools and their counterparts from several largely Latino mid-Valley elementary schools, the concert on April 16 was the culminating event after a series of classroom workshops focusing on connections between Latino and Sephardic music.
Wayne Hinton is a Methodist, and he understands what Jewish audiences will feel when they hear a performance by the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony.
"It's like when you hear a Frenchman conducting French music," said Hinton, the symphony's executive director. "It's akin to their soul."
The soul, or more specifically the soul aflame, will anchor the symphony's Dec. 19 performance at Temple Israel of Hollywood, where the shul's Nimoy Concert Series will host the West Coast premiere of "Souls on Fire," an oratorio based on Elie Wiesel's book on centuries of Chasidic leaders.
One was a U.S. resident from the beginning of his long life to its end, creating music as American in its sound and subject matter as "Yankee Doodle Dandy." The other, after making his mark in Germany, fled his homeland through France and spent his final, tragically few years adding to the glory of the American musical theater at its height.