Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Soprano Cilla Grossmeyer-Abileah has died

The renowned Israeli soprano Cilla Grossmeyer-Abileah died on December 18th 2011 after a long illness. Born in Germany, she and her mother were incarcerated in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, later escaping to Holland before making their home in Israel. Cilla served in the Israeli army and then trained as an X-ray technician. She worked at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center for many years.

Cilla’s great love was singing; she took voice lessons at the Rubin Academy of Music with Juliette Medioni and participated in master classes under Hilda Zadek and Jennie Tourel. Encouraged by her husband ‘cellist Rudi Abileah to leave her hospital job, she eventually decided to devote all her time and energy to performing and teaching. Cilla’s concert performances included singing with several Israeli orchestras under such conductors as Zubin Mehta, Mendi Rodin, Gary Bertini and Lucas Foss. She performed solo recitals, in chamber ensembles - mostly with the David Trio – and sang church music, Lieder, songs in Yiddish and Ladino and much Israeli music, both in Israel and on her many European concert tours. Many of her performances were with guitarist Yehuda Shryer, recorder-player Shlomo Tidhar, pianist Marina Bondarenko and oboist Eliyahu Torner. She performed and recorded much with her close friend – organist Elisabeth Roloff. Zvi Semel has been her piano accompanist over recent years.

Cilla Grossmeyer has taught some of Israel’s finest singers of today, was a vocal coach at the Hebrew Union College Cantorial School and trained young soloists of the Ankor Choir (children aged 11 to 18) of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

Cilla’s rich, unmannered style of singing, her humor and her generosity will be remembered by very many of us. May her memory be for a blessing.

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