Jewish Music Institute Return to JMI  homepage
JMI HomepageAbout JMILatest News and UpdatesWhat is Jewish Music?LibraryJMI NewsletterContact JMISearch the JMI websiteSitemap
   

JMI Newsletter No. 9
posted 17 May 2004

The Soul of the Fiddle Edition

From the Chairman
I am very much enjoying being involved in such an active and exciting Institute. I attended many of the outstanding concerts in our recent Autumn Programme, which you can read about in the Newsletter. We have many excellent concerts, conferences and courses coming up in the Spring. Then we have our Summer Schools in Yiddish and Klezmer (which I can tell you, are outstanding, because I myself took the Yiddish course 2 years ago and it was an amazing experience).
As you know, these activities cannot be achieved without adequate funds. For years JMI has existed on a hand to mouth basis and only through the forbearance of our staff and some generous donations have we been able to keep our heads just above water. We cannot continue such a vibrant and expanding programme this way. I urge you to help in any way you can. I am making it my priority and focus to ensure that we are properly resourced for the future.
There are of course endless calls on our purses and rightly Magen David Adom and Jewish Care, even the Royal Opera House and such like may have priority, but I do believe that we need to balance our lives and make sure that our spiritual and aesthetic needs are catered for and that our wonderful heritage will continue for the benefit of all. So please join me in supporting JMI at whatever level you feel able, by becoming a Friend, a Donor, or Supporter or by sponsoring an event or a programme.
I have had a great deal of experience of working in the community and in the fields of Commerce and Industry as well as in the Arts. I find the endeavours of JMI under the energetic and dynamic leadership of Geraldine Auerbach and her team totally invigorating and worthwhile because they inspire our youngsters in their heritage and tradition, bridge the divisions in our community and provide an excellent interface with British academic, musical and social life.
Walter Goldsmith, FCA CCIM FRSA
Chairman JMI

back to top

Conference, Concert and Course on the Fiddle in Traditional Cultures

The fiddle as we all know, has been inextricably intertwined with Jewish life. The Soul of the Fiddle programme, which lasts a week and has three parts: a Conference, a Concert and a Course, has been created by JMI at the request of the Royal Academy of Music to introduce Klezmer and other folk traditions to the larger Festival The Genius of the Violin, which also incorporates the Yehudi Menuhin Young Violinists Competition and classical and jazz events. There is a leaflet for the whole of this festival, which is associated with BBC Radio 3 (who will be recording our QEH concert Monday 29 March) and The Strad magazine, where there is a featured article on the fiddle in Jewish tradition written, at our invitation, by Sophie Solomon, the outstanding young Klezmer fiddler, who is a star of the now famous Oi-Va-Voi ensemble.
The Soul of the Fiddle Conference at SOAS (28—30 March) looks at the Fiddle in Traditional Cultures with lectures and demonstrations — many by our concert performers, while the Course which takes place at the Royal Academy of Music (31 March — 2 April) sees Klezmer being taught, (by Sophie) alongside American Bluegrass and Norwegian Hardanger styles.
JMI is also collaborating with the Wigmore Hall Folk Weekend (3—4 April) with workshops on Klezmer (with Sophie again), together with Indian, Irish and British fiddling.

back to top

Jewish Music Summer Schools at London University

Ot Azoy! Yiddish Crash Course (1—6 Aug) KlezFest London (8—12 Aug)
Study Yiddish language and song and Klezmer music and dance in the heart of London.
An inspiring and captivating crash course for beginner and intermediate levels, Ot Azoy! is devised by Dr Khayele Beer (UCL) with Peysakh Fiszman (NY), Sonia Pinkusowitz (Brussels), singer Shura Lipovsky (Amsterdam) and film Barry Davis.
At KlezFest you learn the style, rhythm, ornamentation and repertoire in workshops and masterclasses with a faculty of the brightest Klezmer luminaries and exponents of Jewish Song from around the world:
Alan Bern, instrumental course director, (accordion/piano)
Michael Alpert (dance and fiddle); Frank London (brass)
Merlin Shepherd, Christian Dawid (clarinets)
Deborah Strauss, Sophie Solomon, (fiddles)
Jeff Warschauer (plucked strings)
Josh Dolgin, and Sanne Möricke (accordion/piano)
Stuart Brotman (bass instruments)
Expert tuition for those with no Klezmer background and opportunities for those with considerable experience to delve deeper.

Vocal Programme
Special this year is a complete parallel course of Jewish song for professional and amateur singers focusing on interpretation, context and pronunciation of Yiddish song and also workshops on Sephardic, Judeo Arabic, and Jewish art song with Adrienne Cooper vocal course director, Shura Lipovsky, Polina Achkinazi-Shepherd and others.

School of Jewish Liturgical Music
JMI is working with cantors and cantorial teachers in the UK and abroad to set up the first interdenominational School of Jewish Liturgical Music which will be based at the University of London. There is great resurgence of interest in the music of the synagogue from people of all backgrounds from the Cantillation of the Torah to the nusach for Sabbaths and holidays and by bringing everyone together we can create a significant School
Cantorial training will come under the heading of the JMI Synagogue Music section, which is headed by Stephen Glass of Montreal. Stephen has already established a highly successful choral programme for JMI working with children in schools, with synagogue choirs and with London's major male choirs and mixed choirs. Stephen is joined in the cantorial programme by Cantor of the Jerusalem Great Synagogue, Naftali Herstik who is also Head of the Cantors Institute in Jerusalem. Other major international performers and teachers will be involved and our first intensive course will take place from the 20—24 June 2004 in the heart of Bloomsbury at SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1.
To find out more, contact JMI on Tel 020 8909 2445 Fax 020 8909 1030 send us an email.

back to top

Laoise Davidson: A Fresh Face at JMI

Laoise Davidson
JMI has recently welcomed a new face on their team. Laoise Davidson is now working as the Head of Information Services, based in the JMI Library at SOAS. Her role will include maintaining and enhancing the Sound Archive and Library, organisation and promotion of JMI activities and running events such as Academic Conferences and Klezmer Jams.
Laoise has developed a love of Jewish Music through attendance at Klezmer classes and Klezfest which is now expanding to other areas of Jewish Music. She says, 'Although I had a traditional but secular Jewish upbringing and come from a very musical family, I knew very little about Jewish Music. Since getting hooked on Klezmer, I have discovered a wealth of other types of Jewish Music, including Sephardi/Ladino songs, cantorial and choral music, classical Jewish music and music suppressed by the Third Reich. If it weren't for JMI, I just wouldn't have had much opportunity to hear all this incredible music.'
Despite following an academic career and last year gaining a doctorate in environmental science, Laoise is confident that she has made the right choice about joining JMI and working within the field of Jewish Music. She explained 'I believe that I work well when I feel passionate about something. I enjoyed my work in environmental science, but I think my real passion lies with music, and in particular Jewish Music.'
As well as working for JMI, Laoise plays the fiddle at Klezmer Jams, is starting her own Klezmer inspired band, is also a singer, and performed some Yiddish songs with She'koyokh Klezmer Ensemble at their sell-out performance at the Royal Academy of Music in January 2004. she says 'I love hearing and singing Yiddish. I am now starting to learn to speak it! My job in the Library allows me to hear as much Yiddish song, Klezmer and Jewish Music as I can handle. It really is my dream job!'
You can contact Laoise on 020 7898 4307 to talk about Jewish Music and to arrange an appointment to listen to items in the collection in the JMI Library, Room 521 SOAS, between 9:30 and 5:30 Monday to Friday.

back to top

JMI salutes new Jewish music projects

Millennium Award Winners
The Rt. Hon. Baroness Nicholson MEP (top left) enjoys some serious fiddling by Award Winners, Meg Hamilton (left) and David Frühwirth with Joan Noble, Millennium Award Scheme Manager, Geraldine Auerbach MBE, Director JMI, Trudii Goodrick Financial manager looking on

End of the JMI Millennium Award Scheme
Fifty-eight award winners in the JMI Millennium Award Scheme displayed their exciting projects, and received their 'graduation' certificates from Baroness Nicholson in a celebratory event marking the end of the JMI Millennium Award Scheme. There were filmed excerpts and a PowerPoint display depicting the variety and richness of the projects and Baroness Nicholson praised the ingenuity and the outward-looking nature of the awardees and their projects and the value of sharing our cultural heritage with other communities.

Across the UK
From Manchester to Brighton and from Sheffield to Cardiff and the West Country Jewish music has, over the last 3 years, brought people of all ages and backgrounds together to understand and celebrate a distinct cultural heritage. Projects included new compositions, recordings, setting up ensembles, researching particular aspects, presenting papers, publishing articles and books, even writing an opera and a novel! Awardees travelled abroad to interview experts in jazz and Israeli piano music, to give a paper on Medieval Mediterranean Music and one travelled to India to experience and record Passover in Bombay with an Indian Jewish community.
All projects culminated in workshops, lectures and performances to a chosen community.

Many aspects of Jewish music
They explored intriguing aspects of the Jewish musical experience throughout the ages and across the globe, such as Iraqi Songs of Praise; Yiddish Tangos from Buenos Aires; Jewish dances from Eastern Europe; the Cantillation of the Bible; Jewish Choral and Vocal Music and music suppressed by the Third Reich and turned them into educational projects for children, academics and the public.

Communities benefit
The communities that have benefited range from senior citizens in Stepney to Bangladeshi primary school children in the East End, from seniors in day centres in Stamford Hill and literary buffs in Hampstead to school children in Brent, drug endangered teenagers in Newham and prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs.

Lasting legacy
Not only have Awardees expressed their joy at being able to follow their dreams, but they have left a legacy of resource packs, CDs, printed articles and books, videos of performances and websites, all available and catalogued in the JMI library for future reference by scholars, musicians and the public.
But even more exciting and satisfying to JMI is to see the ongoing work and activity of the Awardees in Jewish music all inspired and enabled by the initial award. For example, David Frühwirth is giving workshops at Music Colleges on violin repertoire banned by the Nazis, Judith Silver is composing new Yiddish songs and giving workshops all over the country, Vivi Lachs is now a sought after Jewish dance teacher; Ilana Cravitz, Nik Ammar, Sophie Solomon, Sue Cooper and others regularly teach Klezmer classes and lead Klezmer jams all around the London Boroughs and further afield. Lloica Czackis has been asked to give many talks and performances of Tangele, in Newcastle, Bristol and Cardiff and has gone on to study for a post graduate degree. The She'koyokh Klezmer Ensemble, which itself grew out of an award, includes award winners Meg Hamilton and Jim Marcovitch. The band gigs at folk festivals, clubs and universities and has been accepted by Live Music Now to perform in hospitals and schools. You may catch them busking in Portobello Road. Rebekka Weddell is continuing to work with the elderly on reminiscence programmes and Ben Wolf has become the Musical Director of The Zemel Choir.
The brilliance of the concept of the Millennium Award Scheme is admirably demonstrated by the JMI award winners. The opportunity of gaining a small grant to develop and deliver a project has given each Awardee skills and confidence in his or her own ability to work with communities and has raised their status in their chosen fields.

Thanks
Geraldine Auerbach, Director of JMI says,
'JMI is immensely grateful to the Millennium Commision for making JMI a partner with them and enabling us to give the awards.'
'Our thanks go to the nurturing and caring JMI Award Scheme team so ably led by Joan Noble, with Trudii Goodrick handling the financial aspects and Noa Lachman who helped to set it up and get it running. Our thanks also go to the Assessment panels, so expertly and perceptively chaired by Malcolm Troup, Emeritus Professor of Music at City University and Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Musicians. He was ably assisted by his team from SOAS and JMI of Betty Collick, Keith Howard, Alexander Knapp and Richard Widdess.'
'The JMI Millennium Scheme has empowered Awardees to be carriers of the Jewish music tradition and we at JMI take great pride in seeing them build on this experience and reach new goals. Through these fifty-eight individuals, the mission of the Jewish Music Institute to celebrate, preserve and develop the living heritage of Jewish music for the benefit of all has been immeasurably carried forward.'
For a full list of awardees and their projects, see here.

back to top

CDs of 'Continental Britons — The Émigré Composers' out now!

Continental Britons CD
Two CDs of music recorded during the summer of 2002 at JMI IFSM Wigmore Hall series were issued on Nimbus Records at the end of February. Timed to coincide with a major exhibition in Vienna regarding the life and work of Viennese Composers Egon Wellesz and Hans Gál, who fled to Britain, these recordings add valuable recorded repertoire of music in the early part of the 20th Century. Adrian Farmer, Executive Director of Nimbus wrote to Michael Haas, JMI IFSM Research Director, who masterminded the JMI 'Continental Britons' project and produced the recordings: 'I thought I would drop you a note to say how much I enjoyed the CDs. I was able to listen to both of them at the weekend. I found myself having to acknowledge that there were indeed few contemporary British composers who could demonstrate such highly developed compositional skills, refined sensibilities and for want of a better word genuine 'enthusiasm' for music. In their music one finds nothing that is tortured or misplaced, no striving for effects that fail to come off. The Gál sonata I think is a masterpiece. On the performances I have also nothing but admiration'.
The CDs include as well as Gál and Wellesz, music by Peter Gellhorn, who was present at the concerts and sadly died on 12 February this year, Vilem Tausky who was also present, Franz Reizenstein, Matyas Seiber, Berthold Goldschmidt, Leopold Spinner and Karl Rankl. There is vocal music performed by the young Baritone Christian Immler accompanied by Erik Levi; violin and piano works performed by Nurit Pacht and Konstantin Lifschitz, with viola obligato by Paul Silverthorne as well as wind and mixed chamber works performed by Frankfurt's famous Ensemble Modern.

back to top

Hans Gál and Egon Wellesz honoured in Vienna

Egon WelleszHans Gal
Egon Wellesz (left) Hans Gál

Two CDs of music recorded during the summer of 2002 at JMI IFSM Wigmore Hall series were issued on Nimbus Records at the end of February. Timed to coincide with a major exhibition in Vienna regarding the life and work of Viennese Composers Egon Wellesz and Hans Gál, who fled to Britain, these recordings add valuable recorded repertoire of music in the early part of the 20th Century. Adrian Farmer, Executive Director of Nimbus wrote to Michael Haas, JMI IFSM Research Director, who masterminded the JMI 'Continental Britons' project and produced the recordings: 'I thought I would drop you a note to say how much I enjoyed the CDs. I was able to listen to both of them at the weekend. I found myself having to acknowledge that there were indeed few contemporary British composers who could demonstrate such highly developed compositional skills, refined sensibilities and for want of a better word genuine 'enthusiasm' for music. In their music one finds nothing that is tortured or misplaced, no striving for effects that fail to come off. The Gál sonata I think is a masterpiece. On the performances I have also nothing but admiration'.
The CDs include as well as Gál and Wellesz, music by Peter Gellhorn, who was present at the concerts and sadly died on 12 February this year, Vilem Tausky who was also present, Franz Reizenstein, Matyas Seiber, Berthold Goldschmidt, Leopold Spinner and Karl Rankl. There is vocal music performed by the young Baritone Christian Immler accompanied by Erik Levi; violin and piano works performed by Nurit Pacht and Konstantin Lifschitz, with viola obligato by Paul Silverthorne as well as wind and mixed chamber works performed by Frankfurt's famous Ensemble Modern.
Michael Haas, JMI International Forum for Suppressed Music, David Uri Research Fellow, is curating a series of key 20th century music exhibitions at the Jewish Museum in Vienna. After the exciting opening on 24 February of a huge exhibition highlighting the life and work of Viennese composers who fled to Britain, Michael wrote to the IFSM commottee 'We have now got the exhibition 'Continental Britons' on Gál and Wellesz truly up and running. The Viennese know how to present an event like this. There has been a VIP preview, a tour for numerous tour-guides and agencies, (these people were the most informed, interested and inquisitive of all!) a press conference, where for a little country like Austria, about 30 journalists showed up from Austria, Switzerland and Germany, and finally, the 'Grand Opening' with talks by the family of Hans Gál, myself and Karl Weinberger. Simon Fox, demonstrated the works he reconstructed of his grandfather's that were not available on any recording, (Die Heilige Ente, Violin Concerto, 2nd Symphony) as well as several works by Wellesz that were also too important not to include, but not available in any sort of audible form. For whatever reasons, the opening for Gál and Wellesz was even better attended than for the large music exhibition of last year, 'Quasi una Fantasia' about Jews in the musical metropolis of Vienna, which is now at the Leo Baeck Institute in New York.'
'The money, energy and support that has been put into this exhibition is staggering. I urge everyone in London to try and come to see it, and try and find a home for it in the UK somehow. We had a few people from the British Embassy there, and I shall try and meet them again when I return to Vienna for the Symposium 'Continental Britons' in March. (Don't forget the concert on the 24th of March}'
'It is now certain that the ORF will record ALL of Gál's symphonies and concertos for release on CPO. They are continuing with Wellesz, and may even record an additional orchestral CD to go with the complete Symphonies.
'I must admit, that having spent so much time with both composers, I have an enormous amount of time and respect for them and love of their works. However, in my opinion, Wellesz's symphonies are truly 20th century masterworks. The first four are extremely beautiful, and the subsequent 5 have an edginess, that despite sharp moments, also offer a coherent and easily understood narrative. These are works that we should be trying to get into concert programmes, though with recordings now available, the first hurdle has been leapt.
'Our big orchestral concert on the 24th of March with the Radio Symphony Orchestra will present Gál's violin concerto, not heard since February 1933 in Dresden with Fritz Busch conducting and Kulenkampff as soloist. Only days later, all of Gál's works were banned. Not only further performances of the violin concerto, but the opening of his opera, Die Beiden Klaas, also scheduled in Dresden and Hamburg, and his other opera, Die Heilige Ente, which happened to be running in Mainz.'
'Our catalogues, also have two CDs, similar to the 'Quasi una Fantasia' exhibition.
'If you can make it, please come to the symposium, 'Musikexil in Großbritannien' in the new hall at the Musikverein, (this symposium is the new hall's opening event) from the 23rd — 25th of March. Please make every effort to come to Vienna, and for those who can, please help to bring this exhibition to the UK. The graphics, design, layout etc. are all available. Having said this, the entire exhibition can be made virtual and brought on-line with audioguide and scanned documentation. Please note, it CLOSES on May 2, in approx. 2 months, so there isn't much time left. Please encourage Intendants, Music Directors and everyone else you can think of in a decision-making position to visit this Exhibition.'

JMI concert in Vienna
JMI will be collaborating with the Jewish Museum Vienna on this exhibition and its attendant concerts and conferences. We will be supporting the final concert with the fine young Austrian violinist David Frühwirth who is based in London, and who has specialised in the music of Gál, Wellesz and other suppressed composers. (David was a winner of a JMI Millennium Award to help him discover, publish, perform and record this repertoire). JMI will also support the symposium 23 — 25 March, which inaugurates the new conference facilities at the Musikverein. Michael Haas who is also the Music Curator at the Jewish Museum in Vienna has expressed his delight at the collaboration between JMI IFSM and his work in Vienna in bringing back to the mainstream the work of Jewish composers who fled from Vienna to Britain and whose careers and reputations were destroyed by the Nazi regime.

back to top

Largest retrospective of banned music in concert season in Amsterdam

The new Dutch Zaterdagmatinee concert season for 2004 and 2005 was announced at a press conference at Amsterdam's prestigious Concertgebouw Hall on February 28th. Starting in the Autumn, it will be the largest retrospective of music banned between 1933 and 1945, ever to be presented in concert. The concerts will be broadcast and these will be taken up by numerous radio stations internationally. Twenty of the forty concerts on Saturday afternoons at the Concertgebouw will feature composers who were highly respected before 1933 and their music has been almost eliminated from the mainstream until now. This outstanding series will feature concert versions of three large operas : Egon Wellesz's Die Bakchantinnen, heard last year in the Salzburg Festival 2003, Erwin Schulhoff's Flammen and Zemlinsky's Der Zerg, this latter to be performed for the first time in a single evening, as a double bill with Schreker's pantomime Der Geburtstag der Infante. There will also be numerous orchestral concerts performed by various combinations of radio orchestras with top-name conductors and soloists. Chamber recitals will be held in the Concertgebouw's recital hall which inter-link into the main events in the large hall. Consultant for the project was IFSM's Director of Research, Michael Haas who was assisted by fellow IFSM committee member, composer Lloyd Moore. The project Director is Jan Zekveld, Head of Classical Music for Dutch Radio who made the announcement with an accompanying statement by Michael Haas

back to top

Terezin Children's Opera project in Manchester

Stephen Threlfall and the outstanding young musicians of Chetham's music school in Manchester ended their six months Brundibar project with a triumphant concert at the Royal Academy of Music, London, on 19 February. Based around the children's opera composed by Hans Krasa and performed 55 times in Terezin Concentration Camp, this project caught the imagination of its organisers and participants and grew to embrace other artists of Terezin and the works of many composers banned or murdered by the Third Reich and much more. With collaborators such as the NSPCC, Imperial War Museum North, Cornerhouse Cinema, the Jewish Representative Council, a youth theatre group and visual artists, the students and audiences were able to address questions of Holocaust and cruelty, with music performance and composition, drama and visual arts.
The list of concerts, lectures, workshops was inspiring, many with JMI associates such as Dr David Bloch of the Terezin Memorial Project at Tel Aviv University, Lloica Czackis now studying in Paris and Christian Immler, Baritone from our Thwarted Voices: Music Suppressed by the Third Reich and Continental Britons' programmes. Highlights were surely the performances of Brundibar and Terezin music at the Rye Festival, East Sussex performed by Chetham's Ensembles and introduced by Paul Aron Sandfort who had played the trumpet in Brundibar in Terezin all those years ago, and the performances of the opera in Manchester for Holocaust Commemoration Day in January this year. JMI IFSM congratulates Stephen Threlfall, his team and his students and was very pleased to have been involved with this outstanding series of events.

back to top

I never saw another butterfly
Children's Art from Theresienstadt

An Exhibition at The Jewish Museum: 25 March — 20 June 2004
129-131 Albert St, Camden Town, London NW1 Tel 020 7284 1997
Concert Songs from Theresienstadt 13 June. 7.30pm at the Sternberg Centre N3 in association with JMI.
From 25 March until 20 June a special exhibition at The Jewish Museum in Camden Town will provide a rare opportunity to view art works created by children imprisoned in Theresienstadt (Terezin in Czech) between 1942 and 1944. The exhibition is accompanied by a wide-ranging programme of events including a concert of Songs from Theresienstadt, in association with the Jewish Music Institute, on 13 June performed by young Israeli musicians Marc Verter (piano) and Maya Kasir (soprano). This will feature works composed in Theresienstadt by Gideon Klein, Viktor Ullmann and others.

back to top

The King of Lampedusa 60th anniversary 14 December 2003

king of lampedusa 60th anniversary
Arnold Schwartzman OBE (who made a short film), Geraldine Auerbach MBE (who organised the event), Anna Tzelniker (star of the original production), Warren Mitchell (who performed with Anna's Father actor/manager, Meyer Tzelniker), Les Wright (who crash-landed on Lampedusa with Pilot Sydney Cohen) and Heather Valencia (who translated and edited the play) at the 60th anniversry celebration, Toynbee Hall, Commercial Street E1, 14 December 2003

Famous East End Yiddish play celebrated
Esteemed stage and TV actor Warren Mitchell attended the 60th anniversary celebrations of one of the most successful Yiddish plays ever. He paid tribute to the great Yiddish actor manager, Meyer Tzelniker, whose East End theatre company presented The King of Lampedusa, which opened at the Grand Palais, Whitechapel on 31 December 1943 during the darkest days of the war. This played to packed houses and ran for an unprecedented seven months with ten performances a week, drawing audiences from the West End and beyond.
The star of the 60th anniversary celebration, presented by JMI and JEECS at Toynbee Hall on 14 December 2003, was Meyer's daughter Anna Tzelniker, who had played the King's fiancée in the original production. Geraldine Auerbach MBE, who had masterminded the anniversary celebrations, opened the proceedings. Heather Valencia, who has made this play a special study, introduced the characters and the synopsis. Arnold Schwartzman, OBE, former East End resident, award winning designer and filmmaker came from Hollywood and introduced a short film about the East End and the play. Families of the Yiddish theatre fraternity were in attendance as was Les Wright an airman who had forced-landed on the tiny Island of Lampedusa with RAF Airman, Sidney Cohen in July 1943 — the incident that had been the inspiration for Shmuel Harendorf's play.

Publication of the play
The anniversary event marked the first publication ever of the play. This includes the original Yiddish and a transliteration edited by Heather Valencia who has also written the new English translation and an introduction. Anna Tzelniker has contributed the Foreword. The publication of the book and celebration event of The King of Lampedusa were supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Cyril Shack Trust.

back to top

JMI International Forum for Yiddish Culture (IFYC) — events in collaboration with The Spiro Ark and JEECS

Auld Langs Ayne in Yiddish
Who would have thought that in London in 2004 a happy crowd would sing Auld Langs Ayne in Mameloshn? Well it happened — a large crowd gathered from far and wide, aged 18 to 80, with guitars, accordions, song sheets, food and bottles. They met, schmoosed, ate and sang and were given a special preview of an outstanding film Mameloshn — Kinderloshn made by Harold Perloff and Tommy Schwartz all about Yiddish in Israel, past and present. People offered their party pieces and a wonderful atmosphere prevailed. It just goes to show the Renaissance and love of Yiddish and the new energy from young people (and old) to immerse themselves in the language, literature and song and dance, to make sure it remains a living legacy.

A Yiddish Third Seder
The International Forum for Yiddish Culture (IFYC), set up by JMI last July at the House of Commons, with Lord Janner and at the University of London with Michael Grade CBE has already set in motion several projects, fuelled with a small grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. From the secular New Year we jump to Pesakh and hold a Yiddishe Third Seder on Wednesday 7 April 2004, inspired by the tradition of the Arbeter-ring (workmen's circle) in the USA in the early 20th Century. We will use a specially prepared Hagode in Yiddish with the idea of relating the Pesach story to the Jewish contemporary as well as historic experience — provoking, as in the best of sedorim, lively discussion. The evening will inevitably be peppered by boisterous singing. The seder will be organised and led by Chaim Neslen and Haike Beruriah Wiegand with help from Barry Davis, Vivi Lachs and David Mazower. Guests are invited to bring their own readings and songs for the occasion and we will try to incorporate them. The cost will be £40 with a reduction to £35 for Friends of JMI, and The Spiro Ark and JEECS members. There is also a concession price of £20 for students and unwaged and for children. We hope this will be a warm family event. (Yiddish not essential). Book at the Spiro Ark T 020 7723 9991 or email SpiroArk[at]aol.com.

Festival celebrating Yiddish Literature
We will continue exploring Yiddish drama and literature with The Spiro Ark in one day Festival celebrating Yiddish Literature on Sunday 23 May 2004 from 11.00am to 5.30pm. Over hundreds of years, Yiddish novelists, poets and playwrights have created a remarkably rich and vivid literature with a unique Jewish perspective on life. This extraordinary cultural inheritance is only now beginning to be made available in new translations of immigrant women writers, modernist poets and major novelists. For the first time in many years, Britain's most distinguished Yiddish literary specialists will be brought together by Yiddish Theatre historian David Mazower for a day-long celebration of this fascinating tradition. Come and hear leading critics and translators introduce the life and work of, amongst others, Isaac Bashevis Singer, lyric poets Itzik Manger and Avrom Sutskever, the London Yiddish writer Esther Kreitman and Whitechapel's own Poet Laureate Avrom Stencl. All presentations will be in English and no prior knowledge of Yiddish will be necessary. The event will cost £15 and concessions £12 to include light refreshments Book at the Spiro Ark T 020 7723 9991 or email SpiroArk[at]aol.com.

Yiddish Cabaret
Recapturing the spirit of the great Yiddish 'kleynkunst' cabarets of the 1920s and 30s, comedian David Schneider presents on Sunday 13 June 2004 at 7.30pm an evening of Yiddish Cabaret — comedy, Klezmer and clowning, ranging from sketches by Sholem Aleykhem to new Yiddish shtik he is writing specially for the evening. This will be the first Yiddish cabaret night in this country for many a year — a hugely enjoyable evening whether you speak Yiddish or not. The event will cost £15 and concessions £12 to include light refreshments. Book at the Spiro Ark T 020 7723 9991 or email SpiroArk[at]aol.com.

Yiddish Poetry in Yorkshire, Jewish Boxing in Bethnal Green
Further afield, two groups are setting Yiddish poetry to new music: that of Itzik Manger with Helen (Khayele) Beer of UCL and poetry of Avrom Nokhm Stencl is being prepared for performance at the Swaledale Festival in Yorkshire. JEECS is planning a seminar and celebration of boxing in the Jewish East End and interviewing many of the people concerned with boxing as well as the last remaining synagogues and Jewish businesses in the area.

The new Yidish-hoyz at 164 Grays Inn Road
And where does much of this activity take place? At the new Centre for Yiddish in London. The dream has become a reality and we now have, thanks to a very kind property man, The Spiro Ark Yidish-hoyz at 164 Grays Inn Road near Chancery Lane. This excellent space, with huge potential for Yiddish music, drama, films, theatre and other activities, will serve as the nuclear generator for those interested in developing Yiddish programmes in London, (as well as being a venue for Ladino and Hebrew presentations — and it's also available for private hire).
Already the Yiddish Library of some 500 books has been unpacked onto the new shelves and readers and borrowers are invited to come and browse and borrow. For the first time there will be a place to bring Yiddish books that people find in their lofts, and there will be experts on hand to assess them, give readings to the public and encourage a love of Yiddish.
To find out how you can contribute your ideas, books, or even money to the new Yidish-hoyz, and Yiddish activities, please contact Nitza Spiro at the Spiro Ark, 25/26 Enford Street, London W1H 1DW. spiroark[at]aol.com.
Geraldine Auerbach, Director of JMI, says' the impetus of the IFYC has brought to the public notice a vast range of Yiddish activities in London and is stimulating many more.'

back to top

Klezmer Events

Music with a Yiddish Accent — or how was KlezFest for you?
I first heard about Klezmer from an Irish Musician friend of mine in 1997. I couldn't believe it. I had spent the last 6 years playing Irish traditional music only to find that traditional music from my own culture actually existed. I went out the very next day and bought the only Klezmer CD I could find in Belfast (where I was living at the time) — Itzhak Perlman's 'In the Fiddler's House'.
I learnt a couple of tracks from Itzhak's album and bought some Klezmatics and Brave Old World CDs too, but I was still playing Klezmer as an Irish Traditional Musician, so my Horas probably sounded a bit like jigs and my freylekhs like reels. But I was not deterred. When I moved back to London from Ireland in 2002 I found out about JMI's Klezfest and the Klezmer classes held at SOAS and I booked myself onto the course.
Many of the students attending the evening classes at SOAS had been to KlezFest in the summers of 2001 and 2002. They told me that there really is nothing quite like Klezfest if you are into Klezmer and Jewish Music.
I had a full 10 months to wait, but it was worth it. Klezfest was an experience I will never forget. You are surrounded from morn till night with musicians of all ages and backgrounds, brought together by a common passion for Jewish Music. The faculty staff are all top musicians shipped over from America and Europe, among them are the pioneers of the Klezmer Revival and teachers at the world famous KlezKamps in the States.
The KlezFest day divides into several sections starting with an Eastern European dance session (gets the heart beating), then instrumental classes and ensemble workshops plus evening sessions and concerts. During the workshops you not only learn tunes, but also how to make your instrument or voice 'sing in Yiddish'. In one of the instrumental classes I did with Jeff Warschauer, we learnt a Yiddish song first. Then we had to play it on our instruments. Jeff then showed us that it was not just about playing the notes, but it was about using the Yiddish words to bring out the 'Yiddish accent' in what we were playing. It was a revelation and a lesson that I will never forget. During the concert on the final night of Klezfest our group went on stage and performed a mini-workshop, and Jeff asked several of us to demonstrate the process we went through during our class. He asked me to perform Vu Bistu Geven as if I were very angry — and I let it rip. It was one of the best performances of my life!
What Klezfest and the classes at SOAS teach you, is that it is not the tunes that sound Jewish, but the way you play them. And you definitely don't need to be Jewish to play with a Yiddish accent. Tip: Do 'Ot Azoy' the week before and learn a bit of Yiddish — it will really help.
Laoise Davidson

Fun and Freylekhs — A Klezmer Jam
Laoise Davidson (centre), jamming at KlezFest London 2003
Laoise Davidson (centre), jamming at KlezFest London 2003

Once a month you can 'get up and hora' or 'fiddle a freylekhs' in our JMI Klezmer jam. The idea behind the monthly sessions is to have a place where aspiring and amateur musicians, as well as beginners, can play Klezmer tunes with, and learn from, some of London's top Klezmer musicians. Klezmer jams provide a fun and relaxed environment in which to learn to play and to become familiar with all the wonderful eastern sounding and exotic tunes which have their origins in the shtetls of Eastern Europe. The jams help musicians learn music by ear instead of from sheet music (known in the trade as 'dots') as originally Klezmer music was learnt entirely aurally. Thanks to modern technology, musicians can now bring along tape recorders or minidisks to record tunes they don't already know. They can then go home and learn the tunes ready for the next jam.
To date these have taken place at the delightful Elizabethan Lauderdale House on Highgate Hill. For musicians who have never played Klezmer music before, there is an introduction to Klezmer Jams class where you can learn a Klezmer tune from an experienced Klezmer teacher and get an idea about how to play secund (accompaniment). The Klezmer jam proper is open to anyone with an instrument and all Klezmer fans who just want to come along to listen are most warmly welcomed. Most of the time you will want to get up and join in the dancing as this is usually inevitable when there are some toe-tapping freylekhs or elegant and subtly flirtatious horas reverberating round the walls of this elegant building. If you know a Yiddish song and would like to join in, you will get a particularly warm reception!
Klezmer jams are more than just about music. They are a gathering place where Klezmer musicians and Klezmer enthusiasts and those who want to find out more about Klezmer can get together, hang out and talk about Klezmer music. They are a useful way of finding out what is happening in the Klezmer world and where, and to exchange opinions on Klezmer CDs, gigs and bands. Alcoholic and soft drinks are available making Klezmer Jams an ideal place to come and relax on a Monday evening after work. The costs are £4 (£3.50 concessions) for the intro Jam from 7:30 — 8:30 and the main jam from 8:30 to 10:30 costs £5 (£4 concessions). The next Jam takes place on March 15 at Lauderdale House, Highgate Hill, Waterlow Park, London N6 5HG.
Laoise Davison t: 020 7898 4307, send an email.

What is a Krekhts? JMI Klezmer classes at SOAS
If you would like to make your fiddle, clarinet, flute or any instrument of your choice, sound Jewish (in an Eastern European, Ashkenazi Klezmer way), then you will have to learn how to make a Krekhts. Krekhtsen are like sighs or moans, that are easily made with the voice (Cantors do it all the time) and it is one of the most effective ways of making a Jewish sound on most musical instruments. The Krekhts is one of the techniques you can learn when you come to JMI's Klezmer classes at SOAS.
Klezmer classes have been held at SOAS for three years, and are currently on Tuesday evenings. The first class starts at 7:00pm and this is paced fairly slowly. The faster paced class starts at 8:10 pm. The classes are directed by top fiddle player and Oi Va Voi violinist, Sophie Solomon (pictured above) who also teaches some of the classes. She is joined by some of London's top Klezmer musicians who are all geared towards teaching Klezmer as authentically as possible.
Klezmer classes are open to musicians who are already proficient on their instrument and who may or may not have played any Klezmer before.
For more details contact Laoise Davison t: 020 7898 4307, send an email.

back to top

Concert Reviews

The Mendelssohn Society 7 December 2003
Malcolm Troup
Malcolm Troup, (above ) Emeritus Professor of City University and JMI Trustee, hails the growing importance of this young Society in the present issue of the Piano Journal of which he is Editor:
'The Mendelssohn Society's annual event at the Royal Academy of Music, last December in the presence of HRH The Duke of Kent, featured the strings of the Fidelio Piano Quartet and the Belcea String Quartet in a programme of Dohnanyi and Beethoven before joining forces in the Mendelssohn Octet. Lord Armstrong of Ilminster, whose father Sir Thomas had been a much-loved former Principal of the Academy, proved by his words to be himself a passionate advocate of the composer. The evening also served as a launch for Professor Larry Todd's new biography: Mendelssohn — A Life in Music which has been described by Christopher Hogwood as 'A Bible for Mendelssohn's growing and hungry rank of supporters!'
'The Mendelssohn Society was founded in December 2002 with Kurt Masur, renowned conductor and Patron of the Mendelssohnhaus in Leipzig, as its Hon. President, with the threefold purpose of appreciating the life and work of Felix Mendelssohn and his family, of refloating a becalmed Mendelssohn Scholarship award and of enabling students of all backgrounds to attend Jewish music summer courses at the University of London. It is the brainchild of two outstanding women enablers and philanthropists whom I approached to help me and the Heads of the Music Colleges, with this task: Geraldine Auerbach MBE, Director of the JMI, with whom I had so often collaborated in the past, and Jackie Rosenfeld OBE, who agreed to become its dynamic Chairman.
'Since the Society's inception, a number of distinguished people have joined and two very enjoyable Mendelssohn concerts have been hosted at the Royal Academy of Music. The result has been that the Scholarship described by Groves' Dictionary (5th edition) as 'the most valuable prize in Great Britain' which was established in 1848, the year following Felix Mendelssohn's untimely death, by the heads of the then music academies, has been revitalised and funds have also been raised to send 22 young musicians of all backgrounds to study Jewish music at JMI's summer programme at the University of London.'
Professor Malcolm Troup (Piano Journal No.73, Spring 2004).
Enquiries regarding Membership of, or donations to, The Mendelssohn Society should be addressed to The Mendelssohn Society c/o The Secretary, Flat 115, 55 Park Lane, London, W1K 1PX

Come To The Cabaret! 25 November 2003
Alexandra Yaron
As part of the JMI Autumn season, Alexandra Yaron (pictured rabove) thrilled a discerning audience including the daughter of Mischa Spoliansky, one of the original Berlin Cabaret composers in a spectacular Cabaret show at The Spitz, in Old Spitalfields Market. Reviews were ecstatic. Here are a few excerpts from Richard Sharma's review on his wonderful website of Jewish music. …
'Of delicate, even fragile appearance, Ms. Yaron nonetheless looked every bit her part as she took to the stage and took command, and surprised us all with a huge voice, powerful, expressive and effortless. The repertoire of her facial expressions and body language matched that of her vocal powers every step of the way and was sheer joy to behold. Yes, this could just as well have been decadent Berlin in the 1920s or 30s! …. 'Singing comfortably in German, English and French, Ms. Yaron's diction was perfection itself, with that precise, sharp delineation so characteristic of the greatest cabaret singers of the past. Her singing was such that she even made the usually coarse and clumsy sounding German language sound poetic. … 'Alexandra Yaron is an extraordinary singer who would have been as at home in the cabarets of Berlin or Paris of the first half of the 20th century as a fish in water. …. Her ' spectacular cabaret show is a must for anybody in search of an evening's great musical entertainment.
You can find the full review and more evocative and sexy pictures of Alexandra at
www.rainlore.demon.co.uk.
To book Sandra for your special event, contact JMI on Tel 020 8909 2445, Fax 020 8909 1030 or send an email.

Klezmer Beats on Upper Street October/November 2003
Raul Jaurena, Badoneon and Giora Feidman, clarinet
Raul Jaurena, Badoneon and Giora Feidman, clarinet

Although Klezmer music is based on Eastern European shtetl traditions, rooted in the music of the synagogue, the music takes on many different yet compelling characteristics as it is performed around the world today. JMI presented an exciting series of four internationally acclaimed ensembles at the Union Chapel during the autumn of 2003. Here are some of the highlights of the series featured in reviews and photographs by the acclaimed journalist and photographer Richard Sharma.

The Giora Feidman Quartet
One of the giants of the clarinet (and bass clarinet) of our time, Giora Feidman transcends genre and it would be doing this great maestro a grave injustice to describe him as either a classical, Klezmer, or Tango clarinettist. Maestro Feidman is so much more than any of these, and even all of these. … Feidman's music doesn't so much emanate merely from his instrument, but straight from his heart — a very, very big heart. … From the outset, Giora Feidman had his audience at his feet and eating out of his hand. Not only an outstanding virtuoso but an extremely accomplished raconteur whose sincerity, warmth and depth — so evident in both his music and his words — could not fail to hold any audience captive. He had his audience singing, humming, and alternately listening rapturously. … The Giora Feidman Quartet is as close, as tight an ensemble as could be imagined, each member an outstanding virtuoso in his own right. … It's great music, Maestro Feidman, music that touched, moved, uplifted, music that made barriers irrelevant. May Giora Feidman's voice remain strong and clear for a long, long time to come.

Tangele — The Triumphant Pulse of Yiddish Tango
Lloica Czackis
A vision straight out of some 1930s cabaret, Lloica Czackis (pictured above) took the stage and looked utterly convincing, a vision of elegant, sophisticated glamour. An almost palpable air of awe seemed to pervade the audience. And then, a nightingale sang in Union Chapel, Ms. Czackis is gifted with an exceptional and extraordinary voice, immensely powerful yet effortless and unforced, … dramatic as well as lyrical as the material demands it, truly a rare phenomenon. With a perfectly balanced blend of passion and sensitivity, guts and tenderness, Lloica Czackis gave an unforgettable performance that was possessed of a maturity well beyond her young years. … (She was accompanied by pianist Gustavo Beytelmann and violist Jean Lucas Aisemberg). The first half of the well chosen and balanced programme was entirely given to Ghetto Tangos, opening with 'Dos transport yingl'. Through the magic of Lloica Czackis' performance, one felt at once as though taken back to that dark time — this might have been … somewhere in a ghetto in Poland, people struggling to preserve their sanity by maintaining as much a semblence of normal life as the madness in whose midst they were trapped would permit … After the interval, the programme continued with New York Yiddish Theatre songs, including the Molly Picon (NY Yiddish Theatre's greatest star) and Abe Ellstein standard 'Oygn'. The second half concluded with songs from the Buenos Aires Yiddish theatre. … Lloica Czackis' Tangele was a resounding triumph, made all the sweeter for having taken place on the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Much more than a mere commemoration, Tangele was a positive statement, an affirmation, a celebration even, saying, 'We're still here, we have not only survived but overcome, and our culture lives and blossoms'.'

Kuckoo Klocks, Klez ..... and all that Jazz...
'If the Klezmer Beats on Upper Street series of concerts aimed to show the breadth of the contemporary spectrum of Klezmer and Klezmer related music, then surely the World Quintet was a valid inclusion and a great contribution to achieving this aim. While all its members proved themselves to be superb virtuoso performers, Zuckermann's flute clearly displayed an extra sparkle of brilliance. … The predominant element proved strong leanings towards avant-garde jazz. Touches of Klezmer were few and far between, at least in that essentially there was very little evidence of the feel of Yiddishe neshome (soul). Technically certainly excellent, with some very spirited improvs as well, even intellectually very clever, overall, a human element made its lack felt for me in the World Quintet's performance'.

Budapest Klezmer Theatrics
Budapest Klezmer Band in action
Budapest Klezmer Band in action

The eight-piece Budapest Klezmer Band has long held quite a formidable reputation throughout Europe and North America ….. A substantial Hungarian expat element seemed evident in the generally fairly boisterous crowd (including the Hungarian Culture Minister and the Ambassador and his family). A Hungarian television crew was also in attendance to record the event. Tonight's performance. … consisted of a good mix of familiar Klezmer tunes, Yiddish songs and originals, (performed) with great gusto. … On the decidedly manic side of lively, this music could have had the crowd dancing in the aisles. Superb musicianship distinguished all members of the Budapest Klezmer Band, with both close ensemble playing and excellent soloing, with Gabor Tamas' fine trombone being particularly outstanding. … This is contemporary Euro klez, rather than a traditionalist approach seeking to recreate the sound of the pre-war shtetls. Overall, the Budapest Klezmer Band gave an outstanding performance and received a well-deserved, if somewhat rumbustuous ovation, which the inevitable encore only fuelled even further. … the music was near irresistible, great fun and hugely enjoyable. … With its Central/Eastern European roots and contemporary style, the Budapest Klezmer Band provided a very fitting and satisfying finale to this brief overview. …
While it would have been impossible to cover the entire spectrum in such a short series, the selections presented a good cross-section and an excellent taster that surely ought to inspire the curious listener not so familiar with this music perhaps, to delve deeper into its many different contemporary as well as traditional aspects. The Jewish Music Institute and Geraldine Auerbach and her hard-working team therefore are to be congratulated on having created this wonderful success that was Klezmer Beats on Upper Street, and indeed are to be thanked sincerely for their superb efforts in respect of this as well as all the other splendid musical events presented this season without which this country's musical culture would have been considerably the poorer this autumn.

Gyor Ballet Company: Purim
at the Queen Elizabeth Hall 26 November 2003
The ballet, Purim — The Casting of Fate at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, told the Old Testament story of Esther, the beautiful young Jewish wife of the King of Persia, whose bravery saves the Jews from a plot to exterminate them. But it was daringly set in a stylised Eastern Europe, its Jews in the sombre, modest clothes of the shtetl, with a musical score by Ferenc Javori the founder of the magical Budapest Klezmer Band. The muscular balletic pogroms against old Europe's scapegoat race were dramatically performed by the Hungarian Gyor Ballet Company, a gesture of artistic peacemaking with an ugly past.
Vanora Bennett, The Times

back to top

Book Reviews

A new Biography: Mendelssohn — A Life in Music
Mendelsohn
This excellent book, the first major Mendelssohn biography to appear in decades and 672 pages long, is available to JMI Newsletter readers at a 20% discount. In it, Professor Todd re-examines the composer's entire oeuvre, including many unpublished and little-known works. He explores Mendelssohn's changing awareness of his religious heritage, his vocation as a painter, and his remarkable polylingual correspondence with the cultural elite of his time. So full and frantic was the short life of the 'Mozart of the nineteenth century' that it would make breathless reading in lesser hands than Todd's. Here we have not only the music but the pressures of life that created it, the constant travel, the correspondence with friends and family.

Joel Berkowitz's Yiddish Theatre: New Approaches
Review by Yiddish actor and comedian, David Schneider
In 1876, in Jassy, Rumania, Avrom Goldfaden, the so-called 'father of Yiddish theatre', staged a rudimentary musical play with two actors. Thus, the modern Yiddish theatre was born. Within a few years, the Yiddish stage had exploded into life wherever Jews could be found to buy tickets. It quickly grew a repertoire, a personnel and a fanatical audience, both for its populist productions and for its more avant garde forms. Actors like Boris Thomashevsky and Jacob Adler became the superstars of their day; the Yiddish art theatre exchanged ideas as an equal partner with the likes of Stanislavski and the German impresario Max Reinhardt. Within a few decades the Yiddish theatre achieved what had taken other cultures centuries.
The various articles in Joel Berkowitz's Yiddish Theatre: New Approaches celebrate the range of these achievements. Geographically, we leap from Vienna to St Petersburg, from London to Cracow to New York. Historically, we're taken from the purimshpil (Purim play) of the 1700s — Yiddish theatre's pre-history — right up to productions of Yiddish plays in London and Trieste a few years ago. But what emerges most is the aesthetic range of the Yiddish theatre: from the crude purimshpils with rhyme-schemes and innuendoes that would make a professional soldier blush to the high-brow socialist reworkings of Goldfaden plays by the Moscow State Yiddish Theatre in the 1930s.
London is well represented in the book. David Mazower's article gives you a vivid sense of Joseph Markowitz and his highly evocative melo-deklamatsyes — (melo)dramatic monologues set to music. Leonard Prager's account of the banning of Sholem Ash's Got fun nekume ('God of Vengeance') by the Lord Chamberlain's Office in 1946 throws up fascinating insights into the post-war London Yiddish theatre and the wider Jewish community as a whole, not to mention the relaxed anti-semitism of one not-so enlightened civil servant of the time, whose view on the whole issue was: 'Personally I don't think it matters a tuppeny damn what the yids do among themselves'.
Yiddish has always battled with prejudices against it — that it's bad German, a peasant's tongue without any grammar or literature. Nowhere are these prejudices more evident than in the stereotypes attached to Yiddish theatre — that it's of no cultural value, 'dumbed down before the phrase was invented, with its cringing melodramas and vapid musical comedies, the only exception being Anski's 'The Dybbuk'. Berkowitz's book helps dispel some of these received ideas. Without any chips on its shoulder (Yiddish chips being frequently found on Yiddish scholarly shoulders), it demonstrates the cultural significance of troupes such as the Moscow State Yiddish Theatre, where Chagall worked. It also analyses the more populist end of Yiddish theatre without prejudice or hang-ups.
This, in itself, is proof that Yiddish theatre criticism has come of age. No longer needing to justify itself as a subject worthy of study, it can now just get on and do the studying. Reading this book makes you realise how much studying there is left to do. We have only scratched the surface of this rich and incredibly fertile theatrical past. Perhaps it's now time both to explore this heritage further and to see in what form Yiddish theatre may be developed in the future.

The Gerard Edery SephardicSong Book for Voice and Guitar
Review by Sephardi writer and performer, Yvonne Behar
This songbook is a welcome addition to the Sephardic repertoire already available in print. It is a well-presented collection of 46 songs and comes with a CD and a useful pronunciation guide. The decision of the author to provide musical notation and words, which are a good size and well spaced makes the book user-friendly and will be much appreciated by students and professional singers alike.
Guitarists are provided with a suggestion of an accompaniment figuration or introduction included with each song as well as suggested chords and guitar tunings.
The Foreward by Peninnah Schram gives an outline of the history of Sephardic song and also some interesting facts about the narrative of several of the songs. Most of the songs are written for medium range voice except 'El Rey que muncha Madruga' (The King Early in the Morning), which needs a high soprano.
Gerard Edery, himself of Judeo-Spanish heritage, has also collected a number of songs from elderly men and women who have been singing all their lives and want their songs recorded for posterity. He also mentions that he listened to a 94-year old woman from Turkey who knew verses to Los Bibilicos, which were totally new to him. In his introduction Gerard Edery expresses his wish to reassert his heritage and states that 'These songs spoke to me in the hidden language of unconscious and deeply emotional experiences'.
Some purists may take exception to his inclusion of his own chords, verses and sometimes his own English phrases as well as the Judeo-Spanish (as in 'La Rosa Enflorece'), but as he himself states he is trying in his own way to make these songs accessible to audiences throughout the world.
Although the CD is a useful addition, his use of multi-tracked examples makes some numbers sound artificial and his contrived performing style does not help to create a warm and natural atmosphere for the songs. However the Turkish song 'Fel Sharah Canet Betet Masha' does come over very well but what a pity that in the songbook itself, it fails to mention this song has a Turkish title and first line as well as being a traditional Turkish tune.
Finally for those who are interested in the origins of the songs, his list of sources does not indicate which song comes from which source.
In all a useful edition for students and singers but lacking in some essential information.
This book is available from Jewish Music Distribution.
Email: order[at]jewishmusic-jmd.co.uk, or T: 0800 7811 686

back to top

Other Events

American Jewish composer Daniel Asia in concert in London
Dan Asia
JMI is pleased to be collaborating with Lontano ensemble in a concert highlighting the music of Daniel Asia. Dan lived and worked in London from 1986-88 as a Guggenheim and UK Fulbright Arts Award Fellow. He had a warm affiliation with City University, where he taught students and gave lectures, and with the Hampstead Synagogue, where he and his family prayed on a weekly basis. He says 'It was a rewarding two years of writing and experiencing London's deep musical and artistic culture, and participating in its vibrant Jewish community'.
Now Dan and his music, will return in concert to London on March 31, at the Purcell Room at the South Bank Centre, 7:30 pm, with the ensemble Lontano, conducted by their dynamic music director, Odaline de la Martinez, and Daniel himself. The concert will feature three of his works. He says 'It is no surprise that two of three pieces should involve the Jewish experience, as I consider myself not only a quintessentially American composer, but a Jewish American one at that. These two influences are at the heart of my music. Like Gershwin, Bernstein, and Copland before me, I take seriously the influence of American vernacular music, including jazz and pop, and the rich philosophical and sacred nature of the Jewish religious experience, not to mention the rich legacy of Jewish sacred music. These influences, and of course those of the great classical composers, are found in the subtle amalgam that is my music'. He describes his works thus:
'Breath in a Ram's Horn is a song cycle of five poems. They range from the sublime to the mundane, from the sacred to the profane. The texts, by the writer/poet Paul Pines, bring together very disparate worlds. The imagery ranges from Ecclesiastes to the Blues, stating something universal that is culled from the simple and earthy. The poems are imbued with images of family and Judaism, and their intertwining. The poems are not always pretty or easy, but rather filled with the difficulties and anguish of a life as it is really lived. This performance will be the world premiere of the new chamber ensemble version.
'Sacred Songs' is a two movement work based on sacred Hebrew/Aramaic texts. The first movement is based on the final line from the Kaddish prayer, the traditional prayer which sanctifies the name of God, 'He who creates peace in his celestial heights, may he create peace for us and for all Israel.' The second movement is based on Psalm 96, 'Sing a New Song to the Lord'. The music of the first movement is appropriately meditative and thoughtful, the second more playful and even boisterous, with moments of pure wonder.
'Woodwind Quintet' is a set of six short movements. Each is relatively brief and straightforward, and for the most part, presenting one idea and its development. They range in tone from, jaunty, to ruminative, from moderato to presto.
Also featured on the program will be the music of Earle Brown. A good friend, who died just a year or so ago, his more abstract music is inspired by jazz and the visual arts, particularly that of the New York Abstract Expressionists and Alexander Calder.

Leeds International Jewish Theatre Festival
Sunday 27 June — Sunday 4 July 2004
As part of the exciting Jewish cultural summer in the UK, Leeds has become the Mecca for Jewish theatre, (if one may use such a phrase). Since 2001 the Leeds International Jewish Theatre Festival, under the auspices of Makor and the Jewish and Israel Resources Centre, has attracted performers from many countries as far away as Israel and Venezuela as well as those from the UK to a celebration of Jewish life, theatre, music, and arts, where performers, writers and audiences can take pride in their heritage in a feeling of belonging.
For the third year they invite original writers and performers to develop productions that deal with issues of Jewish contemporary life, social or political concerns, in addition to Jewish traditions and history. They are seeking performers of every theatrical style, whether serious drama, mime, music, comedy or stand-up comedy. Ideally each presentation should last between 45-60 minutes. This year the Festival will grant an award for original writing or adaptation of an original work.
There will be three 'theatres' on one campus all equipped with staging, lighting and sound systems. (seating 150, 120, and 90 people). Audiences from far and wide are invited to experience the exciting and varied productions and the warm Leeds hospitality. JMI encourages all those working on theatre projects to take them up to Leeds for this stimulating Festival

BJMN - British Jewish Music Network
The British Jewish Music Network, the forum for practitioners, amateur and professional in all aspects of Jewish music, is evolving. Since it was established seven years ago, the number of practitioners in Jewish music has exploded. BJMN now caters for specialist groups and there are opportunities for instrumentalists, singers, writers, promoters, composers, music teachers and all those whose practice includes Jewish music to meet and exchange ideas with others in the same field. BJMN works closely with JMI and could be interested in developing activity in the next year or two, for composers of Jewish music, song leaders, those involved in the music of Israel, Sephardi music, and Jewish liturgical music (choral and cantorial) as well as the whole field of music for weddings and an international conference on Jewish music directed by Alex Knapp at SOAS. If you are interested in working on any of these fields, or in the Jewish Music Institute Library digitising the collection, or if you have an idea of an activity you would like to initiate, then BJMN could be the platform for you.
BJMN has a Directory of Jewish Music Practitioners and a Newsletter and they are developing their new Website at www.bjmn.org.uk. (If web designing and maintaining or compiling the Directory or Newsletter is your passion, then BJMN would also be interested in hearing from you).
For further information email tellmemore[at]bjmn.org.uk or telephone 020 8909 1030

back to top


 

 

 

JMI HomepageAbout JMILatest News and UpdatesWhat is Jewish Music?LibraryNewsletterContact JMISearch the JMI websiteSitemap
Performances. Jewish Music Live JMI Library Jewish Music Courses
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.