Synagogue music director ‘invented’ communal music for British Jewish community

Vivienne Bellos. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Vivienne Bellos. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

The outgoing director of music at a Temple Fortune synagogue has paid tribute to the “wonderful community” she has served for 35 years after being recognised in the New Year Honours.

Vivienne Bellos has been made an MBE for services to music while director of music at Alyth synagogue, also known as North Western Reform Synagogue, in Alyth Gardens, off Finchley Road.

The 63-year-old, of Park Farm Close, off East End Road, East Finchley, is retiring in October having taught thousands of singers and set up numerous choir groups in a 35-year career at the synagogue.

She said: “It’s been absolutely amazing. It’s been a privilege to be part of people’s lives. A community is a wonderful thing and the Alyth community is a wonderful community.

“I have children who I teach in my choirs and their parents were in those choirs. It’s incredible to watch generations. This is such a cherry on the cake because I’ve had such a great time.”

Ms Bellos, originally from Southend, began her career as an aspiring opera singer having graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, in Regent’s Park.

But the birth of her first child ended her hopes of a glittering opera career and she soon found herself at Alyth synagogue where she learnt Hebrew in order to conduct Alyth choirs.

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In her time at Alyth, Ms Bellos has set up the Alyth Kids Choir and the adult Alyth Choral Society, which has performed internationally.

The mother-of-two also set up the Alyth Academy of Performing Arts, which offers youth drama classes.

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith, of Alyth synagogue, said: “Viv invented and made relevant communal music for the British Jewish community. People throughout Europe and the world have enjoyed the music of the choirs she has led.”