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Music in the Afternoon

Music in the Afternoon

Written by Shanie Levin

Jewish Seniors Alliance Snider Foundation Empowerment Series and Kehila Society of Richmond presented the first of the 2020-21 Empowerment programs on October 19th, 2020. Because of the pandemic the event took place on Zoom.

Last year’s theme, Be Inspired was carried forward for this year’s season. Fifty participants tuned in for a concert entitled Music in the Afternoon. The event featured pianist, Lester Soo and soprano, Maria Cristina Fantini. Lester is a native Vancouverite, an accomplished musician who has taught, adjudicated, accompanied and performed in the world of music for many years.

Maria’s biography states that she is a dramatic soprano, at home in both classical and popular styles. In addition to singing opera, Maria teaches and has established her own vocal studio.


Toby Rubin, Coordinator of Kehila Society, welcomed everyone and introduced Lester and Maria.

Gyda Chud, Co-President of JSA, spoke about JSA and recalled that Lester and Maria had performed in a joint program in the past. Lester and Maria were at Lester’s home, where he was able to make use of his grand piano. We were wonderfully entertained by a number of old favorites starting from the 1930’s, like Unforgettable, When I Fall in Love, and Besa Mamucho. These were followed by works by Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, K.D. Lang’s version of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen and Tonight, Tonight, from West Side Story. They then switched to a jazz genre, with Misty. Lester played a solo of Over the Rainbow, by Harold Arlen. They ended with an aria by Puccini, Oh Sweet Father.

It was a wonderful concert, the only problem being that they were unable to hear the applause because the live audience was muted for the performance. Hopefully, the appreciation will be evident in the evaluation form that was projected on the screen.

Toby Rubin thanked the performers and mentioned that more information about Lester Soo and Maria Cristina Fantini is available on their websites.

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