Login Register

Hundreds pay respects to former chairman of Cheltenham Hebrew Congregation

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 24, 2012

Michael Webber

Comments (0)

MUSICIANS and religious leaders joined more than a hundred mourners to pay their respects to Michael Webber.

The former chairman of the Cheltenham Hebrew Congregation has died aged 86.

Mr Webber, who had headed up the congregation for 13 years, trained in Fine Art at the Chelsea School of Art and the London Institute of Education.

He was head of art and a housemaster of the Jewish Free School, London, when it re-opened in 1958 before going on to work in the civil service.

As well as being a practising artist, he wrote on art and music for many publications.

His love of classical music and jazz saw Mr Webber arrange and promote concerts at London's South Bank, the Wigmore Hall and Fairfield Hall from 1970 to 1998.

During his time promoting the shows, he rubbed shoulders with leading British jazz musicians included Humphrey Lyttelton, Acker Bilk, Chris Barber, Cleo Laine and John Dankworth.

In 1986, he became Music Director for English Heritage, organising concerts featuring Placido Domingo with music by contemporary composers such as Howard Blake, Arthur Butterworth, Joseph Horowitz and John McCabe.

The University of Gloucestershire awarded Mr Webber an Honorary Fellowship in 2009 for his significant contribution in furthering the education of the local community.

As chairman of the Cheltenham Hebrew Congregation, Michael had the privilege of leading the community in welcoming the Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks to the Cheltenham Synagogue in 2011.

Among the mourners at his funeral service this week were Canon Roger Symons of Interfaith, the Rev Brian Torode, who wrote the history of the Cheltenham synagogue, Rev Kate McClure who leads the Cheltenham General Chaplains, composer Howard Blake, conductor Anthony Inglis, Ray Wordsworth, jazz trombonist and sculptor Robert Erskine.

Many of his former pupils also attended the service, which was conducted by Rev Malcolm Weisman and Rev Elkan Levy.

He leaves behind his wife, Miriam; daughters, Judith and Sara and grandchildren, Sophie, Jack and Lucy.

His daughter Judith said: "My father lead a very varied and interesting 86 years."

Read more from Gloucestershire Echo

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters