This month Leonard Lehrman and Helene Williams celebrate 20 years together as Founders of Court Street Music. Seventeen years ago they were married at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan by their longtime friend, Cantor Charles Osborne, born Aug. 14, 1949, six days before Leonard. Together they celebrated Leonard’s and Charles’ 40th and 60th birthdays in Roslyn – at Temple Sinai and Bryant Library, respectively – with concerts featuring their music performed by soloists and The Metropolitan Philharmonic Chorus. The three of them, and the Chorus, will commemorate Charles’ and Leonard’s 70th birthday at Trinity Episcopal Church in Roslyn, where Leonard is Artist-in-Residence.
This concert on Aug. 18 at 7 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church in Roslyn, will feature a dozen Lehrman works, including the world premiere of “The Robert Herrick Julia Poems” and his setting of “Where Is the Song of the Artist on Long Island?” by Suffolk County’s first poet laureate, George Wallace, who will be present; and seven Osborne works, including, for the first time anywhere, a new English version of his most popular piece: “Samachti B’Omrim Li,” a setting of Psalm 122, a prayer for Jerusalem, that has been sung in hundreds of synagogues all over the world – including Jerusalem. The concert will also feature three excerpts from two works begun by Leonard Bernstein’s mentor Marc Blitzstein (1905-1964), as completed by Leonard Lehrman, the operas “Idiots First” and “Sacco and Vanzetti.”
Charles’ and Leonard’s friendship dates back to their singing together in New York’s All State Chorus in 1965 and 1966. In the 1978 award-winning Manhattan premiere of “Idiots First,” Charles sang the title role. Two years later, he created the role of Eleazar in the European premiere of Lehrman’s fourth opera (of 12), “Hannah.” Subsequent to these Jewish opera experiences, Charles decided to become Jewish and a cantor, only to learn years later that his maternal grandmother had been Jewish, so in fact by Jewish law he was already Jewish. Following study in New York and Israel, he became Cantor at Temple Emanuel in Newton, Mass.; then Spiritual Leader of the Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms in Lords Valley, PA; and is currently Cantor at Temple Sinai in Toronto. His over 200 choral pieces have been heard in major halls the world over. Leonard’s 239 works have been heard on 6 continents and over 600,000 times on YouTube.
On August 18 Charles will be heard for the first time as the lead role in an Idiots First excerpt, and in duet with Helene Williams singing a new version of his setting from the Book of Ruth and 12 Jewish Haiku by Leonard, as well as leading several of his own compositions.
This concert is co-sponsored by The Prof. Edgar H. Lehrman Memorial Foundation for Ethics, Religion, Science and the Arts, Inc. and The Maldeb Foundation. Admission is free.
Submitted by Trinity Episcopal Church Roslyn