Simon Cohen was born and raised in London surrounded by cantorial and classical music. Today, he is one of the leading international cantors, both in concert and in synagogue. He has been invited to perform with the most prestigious orchestras, and has excited and warmed the hearts of thousands at numerous concerts, wedding ceremonies, chuppot, shabbatot chazzanut, and bar mitzvahs around the world from London to New York, Miami, Canada, Venice, Capri, Budapest, and even Istanbul.
Coming from such a rich musical background, his repertoire includes performing in Italian, English, Hebrew, and French, as well as singing the traditional cantorial classics, opera, Israeli songs, Yiddish standards, and even some Broadway.
He was influenced by his grandfather, Rabbi and Chazan Eliezer Spector, z’l, and by his father, Stanley Cohen, y’la.
He began his singing career in shul as a child soprano and created those magical moments where the beauty and purity of a child’s voice meets with prayer. Today he creates more magical moments in synagogue; in concert, with his own outstanding choir; and on stage in front of thousands with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
Simon studied at the Tel Aviv Cantorial Institute under the world-renowned Cantor Naftali Herstik. After graduating from TACI, Simon continued his cantorial studies with Dr. Mordechai Sobol, who embellished his cantorial technique and style.
Simon holds the position of chief cantor in the Mill Hill Synagogue of London over the High Holidays and on select Shabbatot during the year.
His new album, Songs & Praise (Shirot Vetishbachot), expresses a rich variety of Jewish cantorial themes with two main narratives–thanks and inspiration. Thanks for what we are blessed with, and the inspiration to achieve our dreams and goals.
The album has 10 glorious orchestral arrangements written for a symphony orchestra of over 120 players and choir of 50. The SFY Symphony Orchestra is from Prague, and is conducted by Dr. M Sobol.
The album begins with Hallelu Avdei, taken from Hallel. This song is about thanks to Hashem. This composition was adapted from the Seder Vilna written in 1796 with a style similar to music of that period; there is a ring of Rossini and lots of classical musical lines, with cantorial acrobatics to inspire.
B’Rosh Hashanah, taken from the renowned Unetaneh Tokef prayer from the High Holidays, is composed by the famous Ellie Jaffe of the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem. This stirring prayer asks that we be written in the book of life and discusses what could, and what will (please Gâ€‘d), await us in the year to come.
Al Zot is a classic composition written by the famous David Koussevitsky, which challenges even the most agile singer to convey thanks and feel the strength of the Jews in their connection to Gâ€‘d.
Avi Shebashamayim, a prayer for the State of Israel, brings tears to the eyes of Jews around the world when they pray that Gâ€‘d put strength into the hearts of its leaders and people.
Mimkomcha is taken from Kedushah on Shabbos morning services. This exhilarating composition and performance takes the listener on a roller coaster of warm and uplifting prayer.
Mi Adir is an exciting composition in which a full symphony orchestra accompanying the opening blessings of the chuppah.
Sheva Brachot is an invigorating composition which lifts the bride and groom to a further high, moments before they leave the chuppah and start their married lives.
Shamea Vatismach is taken from Psalms and found in the Friday night service. It speaks of the importance of connecting to Gâ€‘d’s unlimited light using the conduit of simcha.
Uvenucho Yomar is a classic piece composed by the famous Yossele Rosenblatt; it is a Jewish aria with wonderful classical lines and a long falsetto. This prayer is found in the Musaf services throughout the year and is said with the entire community standing and the Ark open when the Torah scroll is returned to the Ark.
The album concludes with V’chol Hachayim, another famous Koussevitsky song, with breathtaking vocals expressing an energetic thanks to Gâ€‘d for his help in the past and in the future.
Songs & Praise is available at Jewish bookstores and at TopJewishMusic.com. v