Philip Copperman

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PHILIP COPPERMAN
1931-2010

Cantor Philip Copperman was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1931. He received his education in that fair city, Gateshead Yeshiva and Jews College, London where he was a pupil of the famous Chazan Salomo Pinkasowicz. His outstanding musical talent was soon apparent and at the age of 19 he served as chazan at the Great Synagogue, Dukes Place, the youngest incumbent ever to do so. While in London, he received voice training from the renowned Italian maestro, Dino Borgioli.

At the end of 1951, he successfully auditioned to succeed the distinguished cantor of Manchester’s Central Synagogue, Moshe Preis but instead chose to accept a post at the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue in Leeds. In 1955, he accepted a call from Southport Hebrew Congregation and in 1959, he became the cantor of the Giffnock & Newlands  Synagogue in Glasgow, Scotland.  In 1963, he moved to London’s Western Synagogue where he was recognised as one of the leading cantors of the metropolis. In 1964, he accompanied the London Jewish Male Choir to Israel where his performances as soloist were among the highlights of the 5th Zimriyah Song Festival.  In 1966 he was appointed Reader at South Manchester Synagogue and four years he later moved to the nearby Sale & District Hebrew Congregation.

From 1972, his career took him to Southern Africa and North America before a return to Scotland. There, he held posts at Garnethill and, from 1990 until his retirement in 2003, he was minister at Newton Mearns Hebrew Congregation.

Chazan Copperman, a bel canto tenor, possessed a lyrical voice of great beauty, wide range and flexibility. His musicianship was of a high order and during his career he co-founded the Glasgow Jewish Male Choir, conducted and wrote music for the South Manchester Synagogue Choir and, during his period in Manchester, he was also invited to serve as conductor of the renowned Manchester Jewish Male Voice Choir.  His knowledge of nussach was impeccable and his concert repertoire spanned demanding works of Brun, Rapaport, Pinchik, Rosenblatt, Bogzester, Secunda and Olshanetsky as well as Italian opera. He was a particular admirer of David Roitman, Moshe Preis, Solomon Stern and Solomon Hershman.

His recordings were few but include a number of soloist roles on The Jewish Holiday Album with the Emmanuel Fisher Choir.

He retired to Netanya, Israel in 2003 and he passed away in March 2010.

(My sincere thanks to David Prager for this biography)
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