JMI Newsletter No. 8
Autumn Season Overview
Over 40 amazing events:
The Jewish Music Institute is presenting an amazingly rich offering of
international artists and music in venues large and small in this year's
prestigious Autumn Season. A huge highlight is Hungarian Jewish music,
ballet, film and literature on the South Bank on 30 November in an all-day
event hosted by Lady Solti, President of JMI. You can enjoy the ballet
Purim - featuring the Budapest Klezmer Band live on stage with the Gyõr
Ballet Company. The Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra perform with the acclaimed
violist Rivka Golani, Bruch's Kol Nidrei, Weber's Hungarian Rondo, also
Goldmark, and Bartok. You can see the award winning film The Danube Exodus
and hear an assessment of the work and achievements of Hungarian writer,
Imre Kertész, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Joint President
Leo de Rothschild will also attend this day, which is part of a year-long
Festival Magyar Magic, celebrating Hungary's entry to the European Union.
The JMI Autumn Season opens on 13 October with a 50th birthday tribute
to composer/ conductor Malcolm Singer who has been an inspiration and
a rock to JMI over the years, at St John's, Smith Square, (see page 2).
There will also be a very special Concert for Peace at St John's (30 October)
with Israeli and Palestinian Musicians highlighting the vision of Neve
Shalom - Wahat al Salaam the village where Jews and Arabs live and work
together in peace.
Many JMI Millennium award winners will be presenting recitals, workshops and masterclasses. For the first time there are Klezmer Jams for musicians to get together. We celebrate the 60th anniversary of the most famous Yiddish play The King of Lampedusa on 14 December. This autumn's feast of Jewish music includes cantorial, classical and Yiddish folk and theatre music and ends on 18 December with a spectacular family Choral Chanukah Concert conducted by Stephen Glass. We hope you will enjoy many of these events with us.
2. JMI Forum for Yiddish Culture launched
Michael Grade said 'Yiddish is not dying because my generation, still
young enough to remember its power, wants it to survive. I was thrilled
to be asked here this evening to lend my support to this Forum. Anything
that offers an opportunity to the next generation to my own to discover
for themselves the pure joy of Yiddish is an important cultural step forward'.
Lord Janner welcomed his guests in Yiddish and spoke of his pleasure in
hosting the 'rebirth' of interest in the Yiddish language at the 'Mother
3. Walter Goldsmith to become Chairman of JMI
It is with great pleasure that the Jewish Music Institute announces that Walter Goldsmith, FCA CIMgt FRSA will become its new Chairman of Trustees. Walter is a respected and admired leader in the Jewish Community, in the international business world and in public life.
His early career was at Black & Decker where he became managing Director
at the age of 32. He subsequently became European Director and then Corporate
Vice President and President of the Pacific International Operations,
based in Los Angeles. His international responsibilities included Africa,
the Middle East, India, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Far East.
He was responsible for starting Black & Decker companies in twenty-two
countries and launched the famous Black & Decker workmate.
4. The Mendelssohn Society
The Mendelssohn Society, chaired by Jackie Rosenfeld OBE and with Maestro Kurt Mazur as President, which was inaugurated last October, is planning another prestigious event at the Royal Academy of Music on 7 December. This will feature two outstanding young string quartets, the Fidelio and the Belcea, performing quartets and the spectacular Octet that Mendelssohn wrote as a teenager. The Mendelssohn Society explores the life and works of Felix Mendelssohn and raises funds for the Mendelssohn Scholarship for young composers, administered by the heads of the London Music Academies and for scholarships to enable musicians to attend Jewish Music Institute courses and summer schools at SOAS, University of London. Lord Armstrong, who has a great love for the composer, has just joined The Mendlessohn Society as an honoured Patron. To join the Mendelssohn Society and support these causes, please contact JMI, Tel 020 8909 2445 Fax 020 8909 1030
5. A Celebration of Yiddish Culture in London's East End
The new JMI International Forum for Yiddish Culture (IFYC) is a framework and a platform for Yiddish activities in the UK. Britain has a lot to be proud of in Yiddish culture. Many writers, poets and theatre directors were famous world-wide and a rich culture flourished in the Jewish East End with several daily and weekly newspapers. But today, this is all hidden away: a Friends of Yiddish here, a 'Svive' there, singsongs here, weekly classes there, drama groups here and an annual JMI summer school at SOAS. Most people interested in Yiddish culture in the UK don't even know about the existence of all these.
By launching IFYC in such a public way on July 9/10, with young performers embracing Yiddish music and song and one of our Lords of the Realm speaking in Yiddish at the House of Commons, Anna Tzelniker reciting her father's poem about his beloved Hessel Street Jewish market in the East End of London, Bernard Mendelovitch rendering Shakespeare's Shylock speech in Yiddish and 200 people young and old singing Roshinkes mit Mandeln with the melody wafting out of the windows over the Thames, we have brought all these activists and manifestations together to celebrate Yiddish language, literature, music, song and dance and make it accessible to a new generation. A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will greatly facilitate a number of musical and literary activities including a seminar of Jews in Boxing and interviews with real East Enders. It will particularly support the JMI academies of Yiddish language and song and klezmer music at the University of London next summer. Learning the language provides crucial access to poetry and literature. Many young people find their interest in Yiddish language and culture kindled through music and song.
The 60th anniversary of the opening of the most significant Yiddish play
in the UK - perhaps anywhere - The King of Lampedusa will be celebrated
with an event in the East End on the afternoon of December 14. IFYC will
collaborate here with the Jewish East End Celebration Society (JEECS)
and the Jewish Museum. The play will be published in both Yiddish and
English for the first time, translated and prepared by Heather Valencia
with a foreword by Anna Tzelniker, who performed in the original production.
We invite our readers to become involved with Yiddish Culture. You can join the mailing and emailing lists to receive information, join the book club or write reviews of books, recordings or Yiddish websites for our Newsletter. We are ready to receive donations of books and recordings for our libraries and would be pleased to receive funds (we are also qualified to receive funds from America) for the preservation and celebration of Yiddish.
6. Slipping off to Yiddishland KlezFest July 2003
It's that time of year again, when my acquaintances and colleagues give me sideways glances: 'You spent a week doing what?...' If you weren't there, it's difficult to sum up KlezFest in just a few words. While the rest of London was distracted by the Wimbledon final and the hottest weather of the year, eighty or so of us slipped off to Yiddishland for a week. It began in style, with a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall showcasing cutting-edge klezmer music, from the intimate sounds of the Strauss-Warschauer Duo, to supergroup Brave Old World - surely the Beatles of Yiddishland - and a live performance of Solomon and SoCalled's HipHopKhasene. The audience was dancing in the aisles: the KlezFest spirit had arrived.
For four non-stop days we played klezmer music, danced Yiddish dances,
ate, breathed, and slept in Yiddish, from a 9am dance session, through
repertory, instrumental and ensemble classes, to late-night concerts and
jam sessions. Teaching people at all levels, from beginners to advanced
klezmorim, the staff were a group of the most respected professionals
of today's Yiddish music world. It's difficult to underscore enough the
importance of this kind of experience for the developing UK klezmer scene:
since the klezmer world is still heavily North America-based, this is
one of few opportunities to hear at first hand the best musicians playing
klezmer today, and to study with those same musicians, acknowledged world
authorities in their fields. And KlezFest is not only an individual experience.
Together we worked on freylekhs, bulgars and horas and began to build
a shared repertory. Last year, when the staff left the final jam session,
away went the klezmer and out came jazz and showtunes. This year, we played
and danced klezmer until the small hours. To me, this was one step further
in the coming of age of contemporary Yiddish music in the UK: building
a community with a common knowledge of tunes, dance steps, and, not forgetting
the popular Ot Azoy course, the Yiddish language too. For those new to
klezmer, KlezFest offers a week of immersion into not just a music, but
a culture and a way of life. For the more experienced, KlezFest is a chance
to catch up with old acquaintances and make some new ones, to enjoy speaking
Yiddish over the dinner table, to ask questions, share anecdotes and immerse
oneself even deeper into the well of Yiddish music. For everyone, it's
a place not only to make music of a high calibre, but also to build the
shared experiences and memories that make a community. This year certainly
ranged from the weird to the wonderful, as KlezFest made a political statement
in more ways than one. On the first night, an impromptu klezmer band joined
a large anti-fascist demonstration outside SOAS; nobody there that evening
will forget how after an hour or so's music drowning out their chants,
several members of the National Front were eventually escorted off the
scene by the police, followed by a group of musicians, KlezFesters and
Marxists, reclaiming the street as we danced a slow hora into Russell
Square: the music and dancing in the park continued until dark. Later
in the week, we gathered at the House of Commons for an equally memorable
reception as part of the inauguration of the JMI International Forum for
7. The first JMI Barry Weinberg Jewish Choral Festival
When is the next one? I can't wait!
Simply put for now... thank you and well done. It was brilliant! Simon Appleman, Head of Music, Jewish Free School
It was thrilling. I very much enjoyed being part of it - as did everyone
else. Yes, Stephen is a remarkable young man. Such extraordinary talent.
We were very lucky to experience him. I can see now why Barry was so proud
of him. And yes, I hope Barry has been around in some other dimension
- to witness how we were honouring him, too.
Seldom does the UK experience Jewish choral singing of such excellence,
tonal appeal and discipline as at the performance of modern Jewish choral
music at St John's Smith Square on 26 June. This exceptionally fine choral
singing was the result of ten days of choir leaders' masterclasses, schools
workshops and massed choir rehearsals conducted by the acclaimed choral
conductor and arranger Stephen Glass (Barry's nephew) who was invited
to be the Artistic Director of the first JMI Barry Weinberg Jewish Choral
Festival. Stephen, who grew up in Wembley is now the Music Director of
the large Share Hashomayim congregation in Canada.
We are delighted to say that Stephen will be coming back in November and December to prepare for a spectacular community Chanukah Concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 18 December 2003. Be sure to book your seat early. Barry would have been very proud of this Festival which exemplified those values for which he stood, creative Jewish music in all its forms for the enrichment of the Jewish and the wider community.
JMI invites readers to contribute to the Barry Weinberg Fund for Jewish Music, to support ongoing Jewish choral music training and Festivals. Please send your cheque made out to 'JMI Barry Weinberg Fund' to Barry's sister Myrna Glass, c/o JMI, PO Box 232 Harrow HA1 2NN.
8. 'Jewish What's Happening in London'
JMI is delighted that the second edition of this popular booklet will
be available at all tourist and Jewish outlets this autumn. This includes
listings of wonderful Jewish cultural events in the coming season. It
is an initiative of the Forum of Jewish Cultural Providers, compiled and
published by the new Jewish culture magazine Jewish Renaissance and sponsored
by our major cultural providers: the Ben Uri Gallery, the Jewish Museum,
the Jewish Music Institute and the London Jewish Cultural Centre. To get
your copy of the booklet or the magazine, telephone 020 8876 1891
9. Composer/Conductor Malcolm Singer turns 50
JMI honours Malcolm Singer on his 50th birthday with the opening concert of JMI's Autumn season at St John's, Smith Square on 13 October. Malcolm has been an inspiration and a pillar of the activities of the Jewish Music Institute since it was set up in 1984 as the Bnai Brith Jewish Music Festival.
As Musical Director of The Zemel Choir for 10 years, Malcolm encouraged and brought to fruition many of JMI's most exciting projects. He conducted the Zemel together with children's choir and orchestra at the premiere performance of Ronald Senator's Kaddish for Terezin, which took place in Canterbury Cathedral in 1986. With a libretto by Rabbi Dr Albert Friedlander, narrated by the late Rabbi Hugo Gryn, this event was broadcast live by the BBC.
In March 1990 Malcolm led The Zemel Choir up to York and his enthusiasm and participation in the JMI Clifford's Tower commemorative weekend was the umbrella of the whole event. On the Thursday night at St Michael's Church, Malcolm's cantata, York, was premièred, the first of his collaborations with poet and playwright Michelene Wandor. On the Friday night Malcolm led a 40 strong Zemel Choir in a historic Synagogue Service in the city for many years shunned by Jews. The service, held in a Quaker school, was packed to capacity with Quakers, Nuns, Christians and Jews of all descriptions who later all joined in Zemirot in the medieval Merchant Adventurers Hall. (And how we got a hot Kosher Shabbat dinner to York was another story! It was thanks to Judith Unikower). On Saturday morning Malcolm this time conducted the men of Zemel in the music for an orthodox service led by Rev Malcolm Weisman OBE. But that was not all. Malcolm and Zemel, together with members of the York Musical Society and the York University Choir (whom Malcolm had visited in York to train), gave a stunning performance of Ernest Bloch's Sacred Service in York Minster that night, with the late Louis Berkman as cantor soloist and attended by 1200 people. And Malcolm and Zemel were again key performers the following afternoon in the Minster at a magnificent ceremony of conciliation and hope created specially for the occasion by the Canons of York Minster.
In the Festival of the autumn that year, Malcolm presented a centenary
concert with three cantors, saluting the father of modern Synagogue music,
Salomon Sulzer. This concert was subsequently recorded and the JMI CD
is called Viennese Synagogue Music in the Age of Schubert.
10. Brighton Jewish Film and Music Festival
Jewish films for 8 Cities
The UK Jewish Film Festival presents films, music and debate in eight
cities across the UK from 25th October to 16th December 2003, and then
at the Limmud conference.
Brighton Festival of Jewish Music
11. Record and Book Reviews
Forbidden music is 'Editors Choice' in Gramophone Magazine.
This recording, as well as other recordings of Music Suppressed by the
Third Reich is available from Jewish Music Distribution 0800 7811 686
or see the website
The Lord's Song in a Strange Land: Music and Identity in Contemporary
Jewish Worship Jeffrey A. Summit OUP 2003
This book can also be sources through Jewish Music Distribution and is one of many available to browse or borrow from the Jewish Music Institute Library, SOAS Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG. Telephone 020 7898 4307 for an appointment to visit the library.
12. The Soul of the Fiddle
JMI joins The Genius of the Violin Festival
This important new venture will give scholars, violinists of all persuasions
and the general public, an opportunity of getting to the heart of the
fiddle in each tradition. More information can be found on the Festival
13. Exploring Yiddish Drama and Literature
A new project of IFYC and The Spiro Ark supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund The newly established JMI International Forum for Yiddish Culture, inaugurated at London University and the House of Commons in July 2003 has set up a monthly series of Illustrated lectures, workshops and performances embracing the rich treasury of Yiddish Drama, Poetry and Literature. This series provides an opportunity of learning about the theatres and companies in Yiddish Theatre in London from the Yiddish Theatre historian, David Mazower, the great-grandson of the great Yiddish writer Sholem Asch (16 October), of working with writer and comedian David Schneider an outstanding theatre director of the younger generation (13 November) and of spending an evening in the company of Anna Tzelniker, one of our greatest living actors from the heyday of Yiddish theatre in London; (4 December) and this could lead to a regular Yiddish drama group being set up in the future as well as more of these kind of events. More details on each evening are in the JMI Autumn Season listings.
These events to create access to the Yiddish Heritage are supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and take place in association with The Spiro Ark, at the New Spiro Ark Centre in the West End. This centre is now also becoming the London House of Yiddish or Yiddish Hoyz and will house the collections of Yiddish Books donated over the years. To explore Yiddish literature and encourage people to read and discuss Yiddish books a new Yiddish Library and Book Club is being set up, where the public may browse and borrow Yiddish books. The Librarian Bess Teeger is looking forward to meeting Yiddish readers. The library will be open initially once a month at the Spiro Ark Yiddish Hoyz from 6.30 pm on the evenings of Exploring Yiddish Drama. Donations of Yiddish books, recordings and other memorabilia will be gladly accepted.
Tickets for the monthly drama events on Thursday nights at 8.00pm cost
£5 and there are concessions for seniors, students and unwaged of
£3. Costs, if any, to belong to the Book Club have not yet been
decided. All costs will be kept as low as possible to encourage those
interested in Yiddish to come along. if you would like details of Yiddish
classes and events such as the Yiddish Svive, Friends of Yiddish or Yiddish
song workshops, contact IFYC co-ordinator, Haike Beruriah Wiegand at
|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.|