JMI Newsletter No. 1
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.'
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
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
Lord Marks of Broughton
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
Women performers, Gryn Tribute and Salamone Rossi
Klezmer from Switzerland:
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.
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
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
Music of the Mediterranean
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
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.
A Travelling Celebration
Yiddishe Mamas and Papas
Gregori Schechter, virtuoso klezmer
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
The Quality of Mercy
Choral and Cantorial Music
Synagogue music 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.
Music of the Bible: lunchtime lecture series
Living music of the synagogue service
Vivienne Bellos, everyone's favourite Choral Director
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
'Entartete Musik' International Conference:
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.
Last year's joyous day of Jewish Culture
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.
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.
|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.|