Playing music, giving back, for Montclair
A Concert for Eric
Eric Singer Memorial Concert
Sunday, Nov. 5, 4 p.m.
Congregation Shomrei Emunah, 67 Park St.
By GWEN OREL
One of the draws of the Montclair Orchestra, which made its debut last Sunday, is its mixture of performers.
Some hail from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Some are from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, where conductor David Chan is the concertmaster. Some are conservatory students, from Juilliard, MSU.
And some are from the community.
Kenneth Bannerman played string bass with the Montclair Orchestra last weekend, and will perform with an ensemble from the orchestra this coming Sunday at the Eric Singer Memorial Concert at Congregation Shomrei Emunah.
Bannerman is a cardiologist and has lived in Montclair since 1982.
He heard about the orchestra when they had their first concert/informational event at the Montclair Library, then met with Chan and President and Chairman Andre Weker about it. Rita Singer was at that event too.
“She was blown away,” Bannerman said.
He can relate to the conservatory kids in the orchestra: he was one himself.
He attended the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, but decided during his first semester that three hours in a practice room was not for him. For a musician, Bannerman said, three hours of practice is not very much, “and I thought, there’s a whole other world out there.”
He continued to play bass, but switched his emphasis to pre-med.
For many years he played with the Montclair Chamber Ensemble, but when the group split up in 2009, he stopped performing, and “if you don’t perform you’re not practicing that much either,” he said with a laugh. He does play in a little band that performs occasionally at Shomrei Emunah on Friday nights, he said.
And he and some high-level amateur musicians meet monthly to perform with the Montclair Music Club.
“I invited Andre [Weker, Montclair Orchestra’s president and founder] to come. He heard me play, and said, ‘OK, you can be part of the orchestra,’” Bannerman said.
Now that he’s in the orchestra and in the chamber group, he’s practicing every day.
The concert at Shomrei Emunah will be a small group of people, and that’s exciting: “Chamber music for a musician is really great. It’s one thing to play with 79 other people, another with four. You are much more responsible for what’s going on. You have to hold your own.”
SOMETHING FOR THE COMMUNITY
Rita Singer had discussed donating money to Congregation Shomrei Emunah with her husband Eric Singer for years.
“We didn’t want it going into capital funds, building, food,” Singer said. “We wanted it to be something that would benefit the congregation itself, as well as the Montclair Community.
“We talked about a lecture series.”
Then her husband Eric died before they’d made the decision.
The money set aside for the congregation hadn’t been allocated, Rita Singer said.
Then she went to the Montclair Orchestra’s informational event at the Montclair Public Library.
“I thought, ‘This is it! Eric would love this! Eric loved music.
“For years we went to the Unity Concert series. His mother used to sell the tickets.”
That series, now ended, presented outstanding music at the Montclair High School, “whatever was at Carnegie Hall or at Lincoln Center on Saturday night was in Montclair on Friday night,” she said. She and her husband began going in 1958.
Last Sunday, she heard Bannerman and the orchestra play their inaugural concert. “It was a real treat. I think people lined up outside hoping they could get tickets, and didn’t get them.
“Now they know they’d better get tickets ahead of time.”
This coming Sunday, there will be eight musicians playing.
Because the event is at Shomrei Emunah, she did ask that the program include either Jewish music, or a Jewish composer.
Sunday night’s program includes the “Theme from Schindler’s List,” by John Williams, with the violin solo performed by Chan, and also the Octet in E flat Major by Felix Mendelssohn.
Mendelssohn, born into a Jewish family, was baptized at age 7. “For Holocaust reasons, he would be a Jew.”
The concert also includes “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” by Mozart, and the first movement of the String Quintet in G, by Anton Dvorak.
Singer, a retired teacher who worked at the Montclair Co-op and Montclair Kimberley Academy from 1970 to 1995, hopes the concert will be an annual event.
“Eric was a wonderful person,” she said. “He loved this community.”