Elam brings ensemble to festival

HEADING TO LONDON: Profeti della Quinta

PROFETI della Quinta founder Elam Rotem is taking the ensemble to London this month.

The Israeli male vocal ensemble, based in Basel, Switzerland, will be performing songs by Salomone Rossi, alongside five singers, two violinists and one lutenist at the London Festival of Baroque Music on May 16 (7.30pm).

Galil-born Elam - who is a harpsichordist, composer and singer - explained: "Rossi's music was special. He was very active in the Italian ghetto and composed Hebrew music for the synagogue.

"He tried to make a new tradition of using western music inside the shul.

"Due to his knowledge of Christian music, his music was very different to the traditional style normally heard during services."

He added: "It is exciting for us to perform in London as it is our first time. We are looking forward to it."

Elam said that "Rossi's creation could well have been the beginning of a kind of Jewish musical renaissance".

He continued: "For the first time in modern history, a Jewish centre, such as Italy's Mantuan Ghetto, was cultivating its own music in the style of its time, beyond the traditional sounds of the synagogue and everyday life.

"Unfortunately, this social and musical Jewish revolution was not to be continued, and the place which could have become its centre was severely damaged during the occupation of the city in 1630 by Austrian imperial troops.

"There are also no extant references to Rossi after this point.

"It may be that the composer died around this same time, though the circumstances under which his life ended, like so many other details in his biography, are still to this day mysterious."

Having played piano until the age of 17, Elam decided to change course after realising that "all of my favourite music was not intended to be played on the piano".

He added: "Once I realised that music by people such as Bach was created for harpsichord, I knew that was what I wanted to play.

"My parents didn't even know what it was - they had never heard of it."

Profeti della Quinta will perform Haleluyah! at St John's Smith Square, London.

The ensemble has recorded two CDs of the music of Rossi, as well as the Penitential Psalms by Orlando di Lasso.

Profeti della Quinta - Doron Schleifer, David Feldman, Roman Melish Lior Leibovici, Dan Dunkelblum, Ori Harmelin - Chitarrone and Elam - has also recorded two works composed by Elam and featured in Joseph Rochlitz's documentary Hebreo: The Search for Salomone Rossi.

The London Festival of Baroque Music runs from May 13-19. and

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