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JMI Newsletter No. 1
posted Spring 2000

Millennium Festival Edition, Spring 2000

Jewish Music Institute launched

On a landmark occasion, Jewish music came of age in Britain on Thursday 30 March when the Jewish Music Institute was inaugurated at the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University. As Professor Alexander Goehr, Emeritus Professor of music at Cambridge, told an audience of more than 250 academics, musicians, benefactors, communal leaders and members of the music-loving public, it was the moment when Jewish music had come of age as a recognised and respected academic discipline. He said that there was a time when Jewish musicians had to leave their cultural heritage behind in order to practice their art, but now with the establishment of the JMI, Jewish musicians no longer needed to do that. Professor Goehr added 'There were many sceptics who thought that this could not have come to pass. The JMI has confounded the sceptics and was already a long way down the road to fulfilling its ambitious programme.'

Geraldine Auerbach and Sire Tim Lankester
Geraldine Auerbach Director of the Jewish Music Heritage Trust (now the Jewish Music Institute) and Sir Tim Lankester Director of SOAS signing the agreement establishing the Jewish Music Institute in association with SOAS, at the University of London. (photo: Judy Obrart)

JMI director Geraldine Auerbach expressed her delight with the coming of age of Jewish music by paying a warm tribute to those who had supported from the beginning the idea of a Jewish Music Festival and the recordings, teaching programmes and publications which had grown out of this central activity and now had an identity of their own. Lady Lipworth, the co-chairman with Jonathon Lyons of the JMI, paid her own tribute to the efforts of Mrs Auerbach, and referred to the establishment of the institute at SOAS as 'an ideal marriage.' Sir Tim Lankester, the director of SOAS, welcomed the JMI to SOAS, adding that he believed the study of Jewish music at the school would act as the bridge between the school's studies of Asian and African cultures, and he was confident that the presence of the institute would do much to enrich the musical life of the campus.

Among the other speakers was Bertie Black, a generous benefactor to the institute, whose name and that of his wife, Doris, will grace the new JMI library of Jewish Music. Clive Marks, chairman of the London School of Jewish Studies, offered his congratulations from a sister and parallel organisation and hoped for active co-operation between the two.

Mrs Auerbach said that since she started working in Jewish music 'I felt I was touching something very deep and very strong, like an underground cable stretching from the Bible to infinity, something that people wanted to feel and hold on to, and so I have felt compelled to try to make it available in whatever form I can.' Mrs Auerbach was able to announce that Lady Solti has become the new Joint President, taking the place of the late Yehudi Menuhin. Also that a postgraduate scholarship specialising in Jewish music has been donated by Mr Ian Karten OBE and that the daughters of the late Mrs Judith Cohen, had donated a Bluthner grand piano, formerly owned by their mother.

During the inauguration well-known Jewish musicians: Gregori Schechter, clarinet, Ronnie Goldberg, guitar, folksinger Majer Bogdanski, soprano Noa Lachman and harpist Louisa Duggan, performed music and songs from the klezmer, Yiddish folk and Sephardi traditions. The occasion concluded with a performance of the Mendelssohn Octet played on eight priceless Stradivari instruments loaned by the Royal Academy of Music and David Josefowitz from his Fridart Foundation. As one member of the audience put it: this event was a defining moment for both British Jewry and British musical culture.

The Doris and Bertie Black Jewish Music Library
Doris and Bertie Black and Isabelle Broido
Doris and Bertie Black of Bournemouth and their daughter Isabelle Broido, at the inauguration of the Jewish Music Institute when the Jewish music library was dedicated in their names. (photo: David Katz, LJN)

The most generous of benefactors to the former Jewish Music Heritage Trust and the now Jewish Music Institute, are Doris and Bertie Black. It was their faith in the JMHT's efforts to place Jewish music within the mainstream of the wider culture that has led to their close involvement with the future of the JMI. As a result, it has been decided that the JMI library and archive at SOAS will be named the Doris and Bertie Black Jewish Music Library.

Modest to a fault, they have endeared themselves to many through their support for humanitarian and educational causes in Britain and Israel. They have the gift of discerning where genuine need lies and doing all in their power to ensure that those requirements are met and to the letter. The library will be the repository of a considerable variety of material — vintage books and recordings, papers and sheet music — that need both cataloguing and a permanent home, which they will now have. Bertie Black was among the speakers at the Jewish Music Institute's inauguration and he and Doris have become the JMI's first Founder Fellows.

Founder Fellows and Members of JMI
Without the goodwill and generosity of many people over the past sixteen years neither the Jewish Music Festival, as it first was, nor the Jewish Music Institute, as it has now become, could have flourished and evolved. Without direct financial support through gifts and sponsorship many of the performances of new commissions and revivals of neglected masterworks would have been impossible.
Now, with the JMI established as a centre of academic excellence within the framework of an internationally renowned university — the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London — the future of Jewish music as an academic discipline, a focus for research and a repository of a substantial archive of vital printed and recorded material, looks assured.
That assurance comes through coupling ideas with the necessary funding, and from those with the enthusiasm, foresight and generosity to provide the bedrock on which the JMI will stand. In appreciation of their munificence the JMI is currently compiling an honour list of Founder Fellows and Founder Members, whose names will, therefore, be indelibly linked to the Institute. Bertie and Doris Black, Lord Marks, Mr Rudi Goldsmith, Mr Ronald Cohen and Mr Leopold de Rothschild CBE have joined the list of Founder Fellows and Members of JMI.

Lord Marks of Broughton
Lord Marks is the bearer of a distinguished name, not only as a family that revolutionised the retail trade here and abroad, but demonstrated service to the community by example and on a magnificent scale. 'My grandfather used to say, "Cast your bread upon the waters and it will come back one hundred-fold." It is a motto that I have observed and I think it should apply to the new Jewish Music Institute, which I regard as a most exciting development. 'At last, Jewish music has a place in the academic world, and I am sure that through its association with SOAS, it will lead to the development of new genres of music, maybe Afro-Judeo and Indo-Judeo fusions?'
Lord Marks is not a musician but he has the devoted amateur's out-and-out interest in all kinds of ethnic traditions. 'I have a rather large collection of recordings of ethnic music, but alas not enough wall plugs in the rather rambling house in which I live. So when I do manage to play some music, my family tend to get rather cross with me.' However, Lord Marks, who is hoping for a long-term association with the Institute, is looking forward to listening to some of the results of co-operation between the JMI and the other departments.
Among others who are supporting JMI are Herbert Kretzmer and Terri Grand, Joy and Stanley Cohen, Sir Stanley Kalms.

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The Tenth London International Jewish Music Festival

- A travelling celebration, opens on 11 June, with the most ambitious and all-embracing programme bringing Jewish music of all types to the mainstream London concert arena. The festival, with a grant from the Millennium Commission, will be part of the British Millennium Festival and will be officially opened by Lord Brittan, the former European Commissioner.

Truly International Festival
For almost five weeks concert-goers in London and the regions will be able to sample the best in Jewish music from Argentina, Belarus, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States, as well as the very best British performances of all types of Jewish music. With a programme of over sixty events in venues ranging from Sadler's Wells, the Barbican, the South Bank, St John's, Smith Square to more intimate spaces, audiences will have a dazzling array of concerts, recitals, gigs and other events from which to choose.
The festival is being organised by the Jewish Music Institute, formerly the Jewish Music Heritage Trust, and sponsored by London Jewish News. Festival director Geraldine Auerbach said 'This is a festival for the Millennium in every sense. First, we are bringing much that is new to London and the UK with critically acclaimed artists making their debuts and repertoire from Europe and the Americas. Second, we will have one amazing day at the Millennium Dome, during which hundreds of Jewish performers from all over the country will have an opportunity to showcase their talents.
'Among the artists that we are introducing to London are opening act Kol Simcha from Switzerland, and closing acts Brave Old World and Pharaoh's Daughter from the USA, and Simcha, the gifted Jewish music youth ensemble from Minsk. Klezmer buffs can sample exotic sounds, such as klez with a tango beat by Klezmer en Buenos Aires and the Yiddishe Mamas and Papas, the French ensemble that gives a highly original Gallic treatment to the Yiddish classics.

Women performers, Gryn Tribute and Salamone Rossi
'Among the women performers who will be appearing are Gila Goldstein, the Israeli pianist, Alexandra Valavelska (with quintet) who will present Paris and Weimar cabaret, Rebecka Gordon, the Swedish singer who gives jazz a Yiddish inflexion, and outstanding sopranos, Alla Ablaberdyeva from Russia, Kornelia Pérchey from Hungary and Judita Leitaite, the Lithuanian mezzo-soprano, all regarded as outstanding voices of today.
'The festival will pay tribute to the late Rabbi Hugo Gryn with a concert at West London Synagogue saluting those composers who spoke out when others were silent. We also feature Jewish composers who have made a lasting and significant contribution to their art. Not least among them is Salamone Rossi, the 17th-century composer at the court of the Dukes of Mantua, and contemporary of Monteverdi. There will be concerts, recitals and talks to highlight the music of contemporary Hungarian composers, while the Andrusier Ensemble will play the works of some of the highly gifted composers whose music was banned by the Nazis.'

Klezmer from Switzerland:
Kol Simcha open the Festival at Sadler's Wells
Kol Simcha
Kol Simcha five fine musicians whose compositions reflect klezmer's long tradition blended with an innovative, contemporary language.

Klezmer may not be as Swiss as yodelling, but Kol Simcha, Zurich-based group have created a style that appeals far beyond the genre's East European roots. Kol Simcha, which has a rhythm section of acoustic bass, drums and piano in addition to flute and clarinet, will open the festival with their performance at Sadler's Wells on 11 June. The performance is also part of Creative Switzerland 2000: a dialogue between cultures, and supported by the Presence of Switzerland Abroad and the Swiss Cultural Fund in Britain.

Hungarian Rhapsody

Rivka Golani in Reahearsal at St. John's, Smith Square in 1997

The revival of Jewish life in Hungary since the fall of the post-Communist era has been little short of astonishing. This renaissance on the Danube will have its echoes during the music festival with recitals and talks and interviews with prominent musicians. On 13 June, György Kármán, professor and organist of the National Rabbinical Institute and Jewish University of Budapest, will talk about Jewish life in Hungary at the Hungarian Cultural Centre, 10 Maiden Lane, WC2. Solo works by contemporary Hungarian-Jewish composers will be featured at a recital at the Centre on 14 June, when Kornelia Pérchey will sing songs by Goldmark, Emil Toth, chief cantor of the National Rabbinical Institute, Budapest, will sing Shabbat and festival melodies and pianist Miriam Brickman will play works by Kadosa, Kurtág, Ligeti and Weiner. Viola virtuoso Rivka Golani will talk to Katalin Bogyay, the Director-General of the Centre, about her ties with Hungary. The culmination of the Hungarian strand will be at St John's Smith Square on 10 July in a concert that brings together an outstanding ensemble of virtuosi: violinist György Pauk, clarinettist Gervase de Peyer, violist Rivka Golani, tenor Janos Ocsovai, and pianist Miriam Brickman, as well as the Callino quartet and string ensemble under the baton of George Badacsonyi. The concert will highlight Hungarian Jewish composers and their outstanding contribution to Hungarian and world music. It will include the first UK performances of two chamber cantatas by György Kósa for tenor and strings: Habbakuk based on the Old Testament book, and a setting of diary notes of the well known Hungarian Jewish writer Frigyes Karinthy. Also there will be a rare performance of Leo Weiner's Sonata for violin and piano and Pártos, Yizkor, Mátyás Seiber, Elegy and Andantino, Bartók, Contrasts and Hungarian Dance by Brahms. This series under the heading Hungary in Focus is presented by the Hungarian Cultural Centre in London.

Jazz: Veering East-Middle-East
Gilad Atzmon
Virtuosity, fire and sensitivity to Middle Eastern, Jewish and Balkan melody and rhythm from one of the UK's top Jazz musicians, Gilad Atzmon. (photo: Ivor Jacob)

With a span of more than thirty centuries to choose from, the Jewish Music Festival has everything from music of the Bible to Smoked Salmon Salsa, from fusion to Weimar cabaret, in a host of flavours from hot to kool. The Union Chapel in Islington, is the base for this year's Jazz spectaculars. Stuart Curtis's K-Groove, which adds spice to world jazz with klezmer, Chasidic and Ladino melodies, appears there as part one of a triple bill that also features Swedish jazz singer, Rebecka Gordon's Yiddish'n Jazz. With the warm modulation of her voice, she draws her audience into the world of stylish Yiddish theatre and song, complemented by her trio of piano, bass and drums. Completing the line-up is Jeremy Shoham's Just East of Jazz, which fuses East European, Asian and Balkan music to create a new rhythmic and cultural identity. The date is 14 June and the show starts at 8pm sharp. The next evening Israeli jazz saxophonist Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble take over the Union Chapel for a showcase engagement. One of the UK jazz scene's most remarkable artists, Atzmon's approach is characterized by virtuosity, fire and sensitivity towards Middle Eastern, Jewish and Balkan melody and rhythm. This is the first major London concert showcasing his new album and ensemble. Atzmon introduces Arab musician Adel Salameh, on the oud, in a programme that will explore Arab-Israeli dialogue through music. The Jazz at the Union Chapel concerts are co-hosted by YaD, a new organisation for contemporary Jewish music and arts.

Arab-Israeli concert and workshop
Adel Salameh continues the Arab-Israeli dialogue through music with an all-day workshop on Middle Eastern Music at SOAS on Sunday 25 June, followed by a concert on 27 June at SOAS as part of the International Conference on Jewish Music, defying all cultural barriers with his Jewish-Arab-Algerian ensemble performing ancient Arabic songs and traditional Jewish wedding dances.

Music of the Mediterranean
Savina Yannatou
Greek singer Savina Yannatou sings Sephardi songs of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 19 June. Festival Box Office: 020 7960 4242

He may not be as well known as Moscheles, Mendelssohn or Mahler, but as a Jewish musician of repute and a seminal figure in the development of aspects of Western music, Salamone Rossi deserves all the recognition he is being accorded now. A composer and instrumentalist at the court of the Gonzagas, the Dukes of Mantua, during the early part of the 17th century, he pioneered the trio sonata, which became the mainstay of later chamber music and he was a pioneer of writing theme and variations. Michelene Wandor and the Siena Ensemble, one of the pre-eminent early music ensembles performing today, will evoke the music of this Italian master with voices and original instruments: recorders, harpsichord, viola de gamba and chitarrone at the Purcell Room on 20 June. Other echoes of the past may be heard when Greek vocalist Savina Yannatou sings the songs of the Mediterranean, recalling the golden age of Iberian Jewry with a haunting repertoire of Judeo-Spanish songs which accompanied the Jewish exiles after their expulsion from Spain in 1492. She appears at the QEH on 19 June with a six-piece ensemble consisting of double bass, qanoun, oud, violin, nay and Levantine percussion. The flowering of Jewish culture in Spain did have its 'golden lining' as Yvonne Behar and her ensemble will illustrate in a performance at the Sephardi Centre on 11 June, that will include stories, poetry and music. She will sing Sephardi songs of communities within the Ottoman world, which despite time and distance echoed the heyday of Jewish life in Andalusia.

International Bands: UK débuts
Basya Schechter
Basya Schechter. Pharaoh's Daughter and Brave Old World bring the Festival to a rousing close at the South Bank on 12 and 13 July.

Over the two decades of the Jewish Musical Festival, many outstanding internationally acclaimed performers have been introduced to British audiences. The Tenth London International Jewish Music Festival will be no exception. It will host many débuts and extend the boundaries of the music-loving public's perceptions of what is possible in Jewish music in the new Millennium.
The Knitting Factory in downtown New York is at the cutting edge of the Jewish music scene in the Big Apple, and from its star spot on the bill comes Pharaoh's Daughter, offering an eclectic mix of the exotic and the traditional. Founded by Basya Schechter, who grew up Orthodox in Brooklyn, it distils her musical experiences that were soaked up hitchhiking through the Middle East and Africa, dancing in Marrakesh and hanging out in smoky bars in Kurdistan. The repertoire of Pharaoh's Daughter ranges from Yiddish standards to arrangements of familiar cantorial gems, all infused with oriental idioms that fix the ear and keep the feet tapping and the head nodding.
When it comes to musical 'Yiddishkeit' (Jewishness) for the twenty first century, there can be few better ambassadors than Brave Old World, one of the most respected and admired klezmer ensembles in the United States. Apart from their independent reputation, they were chosen by violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman to record tracks on his two best-selling CDs Fiddler in the House One and Two on EMI. The group accompanied Perlman on his US klezmer tour and appeared with him in the sensational Radio City Musical Hall concert finale. Brave Old World combines the nostalgia for a vanished world in Song of the Lodz Ghetto, Jewish worker songs (Arbeitslieder) created by street singers and folk bards and saved by survivors of the Shoah, who made their way to Israel. Part two of their programme brings klezmer up to date with a reinterpretation of popular songs in a jazz idiom projected with classical artistry.
Pharaoh's Daughter will appear at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 12 July, and Brave Old World at the same venue the following night which will bring the festival to a fitting close. Telephone: 020 7960 4242 for tickets.

A Travelling Celebration
Music Festival events in the regions have always been a regular feature of the programme. But this year's scale and scope give real meaning to the festival's British Millennium Festival status and its subtitle — 'a travelling celebration', taking Jewish music out of its usual environment and interacting with other communities.
There will be concerts in Bristol, with West Country musicians as well as Savina Yannatou. The Argentinean duo Klezmer en Buenos Aires will appear at the Komedie Theatre, Brighton, on Sunday 25 June. Simcha, the Belarus Jewish music youth ensemble, will visit Manchester as well as giving a performance in Birmingham.

Yiddishe Mamas and Papas
Yiddishe Mamas and Papas
From Strasbourg, come the Yiddishe Mamas and Papas, a French ensemble that presents a heart-warming sophisticated cabaret where shtetl meets jazz and American razzmatazz. With great acting and singing, the six musicians bring to life the excitement of the early Jewish settlers in New York as they embraced showbiz and the delights of swing. They give a heartrending version of Bublitchki, and sing Bay mir bistu sheyn and other favourites with the spirit of the 1930s and 1940s bringing it right up to date. Taking liberties, light years away from traditional Yiddish performances, the Yiddishe Mamas and Papas lace their show with good old fashioned romance and sweep you off to another world. 'Hatfuls of humour and revelling in the pleasures of life are the mainstays of a performance which digs deep into the inexhaustible Jewish tradition.' (Polystyrène) 'Even if you don't know Yiddish, you will not be able to resist succumbing to their charms' (Le Point) They are at the Steiner Theatre, NW1 for four shows, June 19-22.

Gregori Schechter, virtuoso klezmer
Gregoro Schechter
Gregori Schechter, Britain's most outstanding klezmer, and his Klezmer Festival Band, perform this year in association with the City of London Festival, the Rhythms of Life Festival in Devon and the Greenwich and Docklands Festival.

The London-based Gregori Schechter, 'one of klezmer's most charismatic stars' (The Times) will appear in concerts associated with the City of London Festival in Spitalfields, the Rhythms of Life Festival in Devon and the Greenwich and Docklands Festival, whilst Just East of Jazz, Jeremy Shoham's popular quintet which plays original compositions with a distinctive influence of Klezmer and East European styles, will take the Tenth London International Jewish Music Festival to Jazz clubs in Southend, Maidstone, Litchfield, Wakefield and Oxford.

Oi-Va-Voi and Ruach: Breath Spirit Wind
New, young and British, the ensemble Oi-Va-Voi, formed in Oxford in 1998, mixes the beats and attitude of London club culture with the ethnic soundscape of Eastern Europe and the Black Sea at the Spitz on 5 July. And for something just as spirited, Harold Lester, piano and Mark Glanville, baritone and clarinet, find the essence of Judaism in the highs and lows of Jewish music, poetry and humour in Ruach at Westminster Synagogue on 18 June, 3.30pm.

The Quality of Mercy
Award wining actors of the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, Henry Goodman, Simon Russell Beale and Barbara Leigh-Hunt join musicians on Sunday 25 June in an inspiring and thought provoking pageant. The Quality of Mercy is devised by Cordula Kempe, who is renowned for her moving, themed words and music events both in Stratford-upon-Avon and in London as well as further afield.
Mrs Kempe says 'This anthology of Jewish poetry and music from Biblical times to the present reveals highlights of Jewish culture in the ancient land of Israel, the countries of the Diaspora and modern Israel. These emerge from a canvas of medieval, classical and folk music, interwoven with poetry and prose by Jewish and non-Jewish writers addressing questions that are inherent in the title— the origins of monotheism and its consequences from Biblical times to Third Millennium theodicy. There are no answers, just questions— and ongoing dialogue with God as though a fellow human being— very personal, very critical and full of humour. This is a celebration of life, of 'chai' as it manifests itself in Jewish faith and culture down the ages and beyond the Holocaust'. The programme is presented by courtesy of the Rudolf Kempe Society, supported by the Kohn Foundation. Book early to avoid disappointment.
This event will be associated with the opening of the Third International Conference on Jewish Music taking place at SOAS University of London 25-30 June 2000.

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Choral and Cantorial Music

Synagogue music in concert
Music has been central to Jewish life throughout the centuries, in the Temple, in the home and in the synagogue. Its forms and styles have varied with the shifts of population through the centuries of dispersion and isolation. Throughout the Music Festival there will an opportunity to hear vocal gems of the Sephardi and Ashkenazi cantorial and choral traditions at synagogues and in concert.

At the historic Bevis Marks Synagogue, in the City of London, on 29 June, three of the UK's most prestigious Jewish choirs assemble to perform the inspirational sacred songs and prayers of the Sabbath, the High Holydays and family celebrations, singing each, in their different traditions, for the first time in the historic setting of the beautiful candle-lit Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, consecrated in 1701. The renowned Cantor Moshe Haschel will sing with the choirs of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, the Neimah Singers of St John's Wood and the London Jewish Male Choir.
Cantor Haschel will also give a recital of cantorial gems, 'The Art of the Jewish Cantor' with the Neimah Singers under Marc Temerlies at the Purcell Room on 13 July.

Music of the Bible: lunchtime lecture series
The Jewish Music Institute has organised a series of lunch hour lectures (12-16 June) at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London on the music of the Hebrew Bible. It is not widely known outside of Jewish life that every word of the Hebrew Bible bears a musical symbol. This ancient notation provides, not only music, but pronunciation, punctuation, interpretation, and emphasis. Victor Tunkel, will elucidate on this, Malcolm Miller will talk on the many musical instruments mentioned in the Bible and Ruth Rosenfelder will discuss women's involvement in music making in Bible times.

Living music of the synagogue service
For those who wish to hear cantorial music in its intended setting, there will be Friday night and Saturday morning services at synagogues throughout London, linked with the Music Festival that will each express the age-old tradition through their own custom, resources and preferences. These include: North Western Reform (Alyth Gardens), Hampstead, Kenton, Belsize Square, the Saatchi, St John's Wood and Westminster Synagogues.

Vivienne Bellos, everyone's favourite Choral Director
Vivienne Bellos London's doyen of Jewish choral directors, is popping up in so many locations during this Festival, from Bournemouth via the Greenwich Dome to Nottingham with a host of ensembles who thrive on her insightful and exciting weekly sessions. She directs her Zemel Choir in a celebration of music written for the choir over the years including the first performance of Keith Burstein's The Year's Midnight, specially commissioned for their concert on 18 June at St John's, Smith Square. Ms Bellos is also founder and director of the Alyth Choral Society and will conduct them in Heritage, a cantata on Jewish life. This celebrates the ancient festivals of the Jewish year and the modern miracle of the State of Israel. Cyril Ornadel's music combines with the powerful libretto of columnist, author and poet, Pamela Melnikoff to bring its spiritual message to life for today. The Jewish Heritage Youth Choir, which Viv Bellos set up and trained for the Jewish Music Heritage Trust, (now the Jewish Music Institute) will also take part in Heritage. There will be performances at the North Western Reform Synagogue Alyth Gardens NW11, on July 4 and at the Dome Day on July 9. They have already performed this in Bournemouth. As well as conducting her Synagogue adults and kids choirs at their Festival Synagogue Service on 23 June, she will organise and conduct a Jewish Choirs Festival in Nottingham. To join any of these choirs, or find out about the concerts, telephone the Jewish Music Institute on 020 8909 2445.

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International Conferences on Jewish Music

This year's Festival incorporates two International Conferences, organised by the Jewish Music Institute and presented at SOAS University of London in association with the Music Department.

Music in Jewish Communities: Dispersal, Displacement and Identity
On Sunday 25 to Friday 30 June the Third London International Conference on Jewish Music: Music in Jewish Communities: Dispersal, Displacement and Identity takes place. The Conference Director, Alexander Knapp, the Joe Loss Lecturer in Jewish Music, at SOAS, reports that offers of papers have been received from scholars from all over the world on aspects of Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Oriental Jewish music; liturgical, folk, popular and classical styles, including several presentations on Klezmer. Observers and delegates are welcome for full conference or daily attendance, which includes lunchtime concerts.

'Entartete Musik' International Conference:
Thwarted Voices: Music Suppressed by the Third Reich


Franz Schreker (1878–1934) the influential composition teacher whose works and those of his students were supressed by the Nazis.

No act of cultural barbarism has ever matched the campaign by the Third Reich to erase from common consciousness, music and art it deemed 'degenerate'. What might have evolved as the language of music in Western Europe had composers, at the most crucial stage of their careers, not been forced from their homeland is a subject that is now being addressed with increasing intensity.

Invited Speakers from the USA the UK and Europe, focus on Franz Schreker the most influential European composition teacher based in Berlin in the 1920s and 1930s and his students, amongst them, Berthold Goldschmidt, Ernst Krenek, Karol Rathaus, Max Brand, considered the rising talents in Western Europe, writing tonal music whilst being part of a very spirited avant-garde. Almost without exception, they were forced into exile by the Nazis, at the start of promising careers. Observers and delegates welcome for full conference or daily attendance, which includes lunchtime concerts. Chairman Michael Haas, executive producer of the Decca series of recordings on 'Entartete Musik' Conference Director Erik Levi who has written books and articles on the subject.

Presented by the International Forum for Suppressed Music of the Jewish Music Institute, SOAS, co-hosted by the Music Department, SOAS.

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Last year's joyous day of Jewish Culture
on the South Bank 1999

Nitza Spiro, Spike Milligan and Geraldine Auerbach
Nitza Spiro, Spike Milligan and Geraldine Auerbach with the Spike Milligan Award for Jewish Comedy, which was given for the first time.

Bernice Rubens and Howard Jacobson
Bernice Rubens and Howard Jacobson in conversation backstage at the Purcell Room before the 'Meet my Jewish Mother' session.

Nearly 3000 people spent an exciting day at the Purcell Room and the Queen Elizabeth Hall last November, delighting in all types of Jewish culture from seven of our greatest Jewish writers talking about their Jewish mothers through the moving and uplifting cantorial and choral music of the synagogue to the joyous toe-tapping music of the Eastern European klezmer. Britain's 'father of alternative comedy', Spike Milligan, who had his first big break in show business from Jewish bandleader Joe Loss, introduced a session of Jewish Comedy and presented the first Spike Milligan Award for Jewish Comedy to the enterprising 19-piece Banana Rebel Troup. Their comedy sketches and songs interpret life in Britain today as seen from a young Jewish perspective. Spike admired their energy and talent. He delighted the audience with some of his poems and stories. The Purcell Room events, planned in partnership with the Spiro Ark concluded with a recital by the Weingarten Ensemble, in which Teresa Cahill sang a work by Robert Saxton written in tribute to the late Rabbi Hugo Gryn.

Lucie Skeaping and The Burning Bush
Lucie Skeaping and The Burning Bush, Britain's most widely acclaimed Jewish music ensemble play the Barbican on 26 June

Over in the larger Queen Elizabeth Hall, Britain's best-loved klezmer, Gregori Schechter hailed as 'one of klezmer's most charismatic stars' by The Times, thrilled his audience once more as the Klezmer Festival Band performed Moldavian, Galician, Rumanian and Ukrainian dances and melodies. Lucie Skeaping and The Burning Bush in their sell out and exciting, polished programme, included music from the Old Ottoman Empire, from Andalusia and the Judeo Spanish Diaspora played on ancient and modern instruments. Their traditional Sephardi wedding music and ancient ballads brought to life with exquisite shadow puppets was a fitting culmination to a satisfying and inspiring day. If you missed Lucie Skeaping and the Burning Bush at the South Bank, they take pride of place in the Tenth London International Jewish Music Festival with a concert at the Barbican on Monday 26 June 2000. Be sure to book early as many were disappointed when their concert was sold out weeks in advance. Jewish Culture Day on the South Bank 2000 on 26 November will be devoted to a tribute to Yehudi Menuhin, late President of the Jewish Music Heritage Trust with a film, an illuminating talk by his biographer, Humphrey Burton and music by children of the Yehudi Menuhin school.

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The Jewish Music Institute is an independent Arts organisation based at SOAS, University of London. It is an international focus bringing the ancient yet contemporary musical culture of the Jews to the mainstream British cultural, academic and social life. Its programmes of education, performance and information highlight many aspects of Jewish music throughout the ages and across the globe for people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures.