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Leah Roseman on violin and Dina Namer on piano. Photo by Kelly Hotte.

Seldom heard composers a hit at MacKay United concert—05.06.18

By Alex Binkley on May 10, 2018



Even among classic music aficionados the names Karl Goldmark, Joseph Achron and Robert Kahn would probably draw a blank stare. After hearing some of their compositions played May 6 at MacKay United Church, one could only hope to hear more of them.

Violinist Leah Roseman, the artistic director for the MacKay Concert Series and a member of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, teamed with pianist Dina Namer to offer a sampling of their work, much of which is unpublished and hence unknown. Namer, a faculty member of the Queen’s University School of Music, teaches piano, harpsichord and chamber music and runs a private studio in Ottawa.

They were rewarded with a long standing and well deserved ovation from the 150 attendees at the event, which should strengthen the musicians’ desire to draw more attention to these overlooked composers.

The concert was entitled Hebrew Lullaby after the Achron piece played after the intermission but much of the music would hardly be considered a lullaby. The three composers were born in the 1800s and lived well into the 1900s. Their music is written to a busier and more active tone than the sweeping classical sounds of earlier times to reflect a world being forever altered by new technology and discoveries.

The composers were Jewish and for Achron and Kahn that included living through the tumultuous times created by the rise of the fascists in Europe, which ensured their work was ignored and banned.
Kahn fled to England from Germany in 1938 while Goldmark, a Hungarian, enjoyed some fame for his playing and composing before his death in 1915 but his music was suppressed because of his ethnic background. Achron moved to the United States in 1925 and worked for years composing film scores. Again his music largely dropped out of sight after his death in 1951.

Here’s to a revival of their works.