01. About Us
A Choir was formed in 1985 for the celebration of the 350th anniversary of the Amsterdam Jewish Community that took place in the historic Portuguese Esnoga (synagogue). The choir's successful performance inspired one of its participants to form an ongoing synagogue choir that would maintain and enrich the sounds of Dutch synagogue culture.
In the past 30 Years, the sixteen-voice-strong ASK did sing with Chief Cantor Hans Bloemendal and other internationally acclaimed cantors. In addition to religious services and ceremonies, the ASK has performed for the Dutch and Israeli governments during nationally televised events.West European chazzanut (cantorial music) forms the basis of the ASK's repertoire and is distinguished by its solemn, striving character. One doesn't need to know anything about Jewish liturgy or Hebrew to be able to enjoy these melodies in which belief, love and desire are so beautifully rendered.
Previous recordings of the ASK have included an earlier live recording from the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Blessed By The Choirs Of Thy People and a special service honouring the 50th anniversary of the State of Israel.
In recent Years the Choir has recorded several CD's of live concerts or special occasions. The ASK has released a CD entitled "ASK 20th Anniversary Concert," recorded live on location during our Chanukah jubilee concert at the Concertgebouw, December 2004.
In a series of 3 concerts in the Years 2008/2009 we have recorded results of our work; which is available on CD.
Ilia Belianko studied at the Thelma Yalin School of Arts in Tel-Aviv between 1990-1993.
A few years later Ilia began working with several choirs and orchestras as a conductor. Among the ensembles that he permanently worked with were Ma’ale Adumim Chamber Choir, Chamber Choir of the Music Academy in Jerusalem, and Jerusalem’s vocal ensemble. He also sang in the choir Philharmonia Singers and the chorus of The New Israeli Opera in Tel-Aviv. He graduated from Jerusalem Academy of Music as Orchestral Conductor in 2001.
Since 2004 Ilia Belianko lives and works in the Netherlands. In 2006 he accomplished his studies and received Diploma in Choral Conducting from Conservatorium van Amsterdam. He currently serves as chief conductor of Amsterdam’s Synagogaal Koor, Voorhout’s Kamerkoor, Klein Byzantijns Koor in Utrecht, Koninklijk Toonkunstkoor Concordia Leeuwarden, and Venloos Symfonie Orkest.
Ilia received two scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation for piano in 1990, and choral conducting in 1999. He is a Laureate of the international competition for conductors Riga 2005.
Jack van der Zand
After founding the the Amsterdam Synagogue Choir, Chief Cantor Hans Bloemendal (1923-2015) asked his good friend Jack vd Zand to become the first conductor. Until his sudden death in 1988 Jack vd Zand conducted a choir which consisted of inexperienced, but highly motivated singers. He was responsible for arranging the first scores from the pre-war repertoire for the choir.
Barry Mehler succeeded vd Zand as conductor of the choir in the period from 1988 to 2004. Mehler transformed the choir into a semi-professional choir. Under his musical direction the choir sang on numerous occasions. The choir performed at synagogue services, weddings, and concerts. In addition, TV programs were produced about the choir and choir members.
The Board of the Amsterdam Synagogue Choir Foundation currently consists of Irwin Oppenheim (President and Secretary a.i.), Casper Filarski (Treasurer), Jaap Roos and Micha van Dijk .