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Stephen Glass

Stephen GlassSTEPHEN GLASS (1964 – ) was born in London. From an early age, he displayed a keen musical ability that was nurtured and developed first at home and then through formal piano lessons, as well as singing solos and duets in the synagogue. He grew up listening to the sound of cantor and male-choir in synagogue — Both his father and uncle sang in Wembley Synagogue Choir. As a teenager, he was encouraged to compose and arrange for the choir by its conductor, the late Lew Jackson, and by Cantor Stephen Robins. Mr. Glass also received a thorough grounding in nusach hat’filah (prayer modes) from Cantor Robins. In 1980, at the age of 16, Mr. Glass made his conducting debut for the High Holy Day services and accompanied professionally for the first time.

After completing his musical studies at the University of East Anglia, the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London and at the London College of Music, Mr. Glass formed his own liturgical choir, the B’nai B’rith Festival Singers, which later became the Shabbaton Choir. Together, Mr. Glass and the choir appeared in a number of important concerts and, in addition, re-established the tradition of Choral Selichot Services. Mr. Glass also began an important collaboration with then Cantor now Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld of Marble Arch Synagogue. Together they approached the music of the Friday evening and Shabbat morning services, with the goal of creating expressive cantorial lines developed from the nusach and strongly adhering to the meaning and mood of the text. At the same time, the role of the choir was refashioned so that it played more of a supportive role and provided a sophisticated harmonic background in the absence of instrumental accompaniment. It was these experiences that were very much in his mind when Mr. Glass left the UK in 1990 to take up the position of director of music at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal.

Since then, in addition to developing the synagogue male-choir into a first-class ensemble, Mr. Glass also has established mixed-voice, teen and children’s choirs. He has conducted four multimedia concerts with symphony orchestra and chorus in the Main Sanctuary, celebrating Congregation Shaar Hashomayim’s 150th and 160th anniversaries and the 50th and 60th Anniversaries of the establishment of the State of Israel. He has introduced a wide variety of musical programming including concerts and lectures.

As an accompanist, Mr. Glass has appeared in concert or recorded with all the great names in the cantorial world. As a composer, he has written music for the National Film Board of Canada, and in 1998 he composed or arranged all the music for Toronto’s Night of a Lifetime — an extravaganza in celebration of Israel’s 50th Anniversary, broadcast live on CBC Television.

Mr. Glass maintains a strong musical link with the UK. In 2003, he directed a choral extravaganza including more than 150 school children in a major concert for Chanukah, held at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. In 2004, he directed Cantors In Concert, featuring 16 cantors from across the United Kingdom. In 2005, he worked with more than 100 children and a number of cantors and choirs in a major concert in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 2006, he directed more than 300 children in a concert commemorating 350 years of Jewish life in Britain, including new songs that he was commissioned to compose for the event. He also helped establish the Jewish Music Institute’s annual European Cantors Convention.

Mr. Glass has been associated with many community events, such as cantorial concerts, the annual Jewish Day School Zimriya, the annual Yom Hashoah Commemoration and events for Israel Bonds and Magen David Adom.

He is recognized as an exceptional communicator, conductor, accompanist, arranger and composer of Jewish music and for his extraordinary ability to motivate and inspire young and old. In addition, he is respected widely as an arranger with a rich harmonic palette, a composer with a strong melodic instinct and an accompanist par excellence.


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