Music to my ears: showcasing Early Jewish music

In an earlier edition of the Cape Jewish Chronicle, we spoke about the need for us to hold on to our past and our history by finding out about our parents’ and grandparents’ histories and past experiences. The same sentiment applies to our culture – how much has been lost over the centuries of Jewish existence?

And, so, it’s certainly encouraging to come across a young person whose passion is to preserve and share Jewish culture from a bygone era. Adam Golding, a teacher and music expert from Johannesburg, will be bringing his expertise to Cape Town soon, with the performance of the Hidden Treasures of the Hebrew Baroque concert. 

Adam’s focus is on music dating from the period 1400 to 1750. Known as Early Music, this genre includes Renaissance and early Baroque compositions. It’s seldom performed anywhere, and is certainly something unique within music circles in South Africa. Through his African Renaissance Ensemble – an established Renaissance instrumental and vocal ensemble that he set up in 2017 – Adam is able to inspire others to share his love for the music of earlier periods.

His latest concert will showcase early Hebrew music, taking his audience into the realm of the earliest synagogue music. It’s not music that we would know, but it certainly does allow us to connect with our long-standing Jewish culture. It is also music that modern audiences will find accessible and inspiring.

According to Adam, “The pieces we have selected are in tribute to the 17th century Italian Jewish violinist and composer, Salamone Rossi, whose Hashirim L’Shlomo (The Songs of Solomon), was published exactly 400 years ago. The publication of this music is hugely significant because it was the first published collection of choral synagogue music, and the first to be notated in Hebrew.”  

In addition to upholding the significance of the contribution of Rossi to our culture, Adam’s concert will also highlight the work of two non-Jewish composers, Carlo Grossi and Ludovico Saladin. Through their interaction with the Jewish communities in Provence and Venice, they produced music for the celebration of Hashanah Rabbah and a Brit Milah ceremony.

In putting together this concert, Adam is driven by his goal of making this music accessible to a wider audience – not something just for music experts and academics. “This kind of music is appealing to a modern audience,” he says. “It’s easier to listen to than classical music and, because the pieces are relatively short, audiences find that there is greater variety. I will also explain things about the music – and share some entertaining anecdotes.”  

The concert will be held on 28 October at 20:00 and 29 October at 15:00 at Temple Israel, Wynberg. Earlybird tickets from R180. For tickets and more information, see

• Published in the September 2023 issue – Click here to start reading.

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