Introduction by Geraldine Auerbach MBE, founding Director of JMI
In the summer of 1984, the first major international festival devoted to Jewish music – anywhere in the world – took place in London UK. It was called the Bnai Brith Music Festival and lasted over 4 weeks. It was filled with choral, vocal and instrumental concerts in London’s major concert halls and other interesting venues. It featured everything from Chasidic music and Jewish jazz, to oratorios, orchestral and chamber music. There were also illustrated talks and Jewish music in situ in synagogue services – including in the oldest Sephardi synagogue in London, Bevis Marks.
This first festival marked the beginning of the trajectory that culminated in the establishment of the Jewish Music Institute at the University of London in 1999. As the founding Director of the festival and of JMI, I realised that Jewish music was like a radioactive cable reaching from the bible to infinity – and that people wanted to be warmed by its glow. I spent the next 30 years of my life, dedicated to making it available to the best of my ability in all its manifestations.
More festivals followed, every two years until 2000. For each festival, all the concerts and events were documented in a single programme book. These are now fascinating historical documents and hugely informative on the scope and reach of Jewish music and the composers and artists involved.
Several works were commissioned, and many old and new works were given first performances in the UK. Special ensembles were brought in from Europe, Israel and America and new ensembles were created in the UK to perform special repertoires. Highlights included music composed by and for the Rothschilds performed at their stately homes and a day of Jewish music in the Millennium Dome.
Working with the Council of Christians and Jews, we presented Ronald Senator’s oratorio, Kaddish for Terezin in Canterbury Cathedral in 1986 with Rabbi Hugo Gryn, who had been an inmate, as narrator, blowing the shofar in the Cathedral – broadcast live on Radio London. Then in 1990 there was Ernest Bloch’s Sacred Service in Hebrew in York Minster as part of a long weekend we organised and presented, commemorating the 800th anniversary of the massacre of the Jews of York.
The Sacred Service was performed again in 1995 at St Paul’s Cathedral under the baton of Yehudi Menuhin in the presence of HRH The Prince Philip. This was part of a special festival called Sacred Music of two Traditions.
Other special festivals were the Austrian Jewish Music Festival of 1996, the World of Jewish Music in 1998 and the last festival A Travelling Festival in 2000.
In the intervening years there were mini festivals at the Southbank Centre and Wigmore Hall such as Thwarted Voices: Music Suppressed by the Third Reich, ‘Continental Britons – The Émigré Composers’, Musical Dialogues of East and West (Israeli Music) and a Tribute after he died, to Yehudi Menuhin, who had been the valued President of JMI.
At last, all these festival programmes, and the programmes of five international conferences on aspects of Jewish music have been digitised – with many thanks to our partners, the Jewish Music Institute in Paris under Herve Roten and Jean-Gabriel Davis for managing the process. Thanks to them, we can have them on the JMI website for all to see – hopefully forever.
Geraldine Auerbach MBE, London, November 2019
Jewish Music Heritage Trust /Jewish Music Institute 1984 – 2011 Full list of programmes of festivals and conferences (*including some not sent to Paris for digitising)
|Biennial Festival Programmes|
|1:||1984 BB Festival programme||52||A5||1st Festival Red cover|
|2:||1986 BB Festival programme||92||A5||2nd Festival Green cover|
|3:||1988 BB Festival programme||124||A5||3rd Festival Orange cover|
|4:||1990 BB Festival programme||52||A5||4th Festival Blue cover|
|5:||1992 BB Festival programme||82||A5||5th Festival Red /Black|
|6:||1994 BB Festival programme||52||A5||6th Festival Yellow/Blue|
|7:||1996 8th Festival programme||80||A4 short||Austrian/Jewish culture white|
|8:||1998 9th Festival programme||76||A4 short||World of Jewish Music cream|
|9:||2000 10th Festival programme||80||A4 short||A travelling celebration pink|
|One-off Southbank Festivals/ Events|
|10:||1993 March Southbank Centre||16||A5*||Adler/Schechter.Sitkovetsky|
|11:||1994 October Barbican||20||A4*||Joe Loss Tribute concert|
|12:||1997 mini festival Southbank Centre||20||A4 short||Eastern European|
|13:||1999 mini festival Southbank Centre||24||A4 short||Jewish Culture Day|
|14:||2000 mini festival Southbank Centre||28||A4 short||Yehudi Menuhin|
|15:||2001 mini festival Southbank Centre||28||A4 short||Thwarted Voices|
|16:||2002 mini festival Wigmore Hall||36||A5 tall||‘Continental Britons’|
|17:||2003 St John’s, Smith Square||8||A4*||Jewish choral festival|
|18:||2003 November Union chapel||12||A5*||Klezmer Beats on Upper St|
|19||2004 mini festival Southbank Centre||44||A5 tall||Musical Dialogues of East and West|
|20||2004 Dec mini festival Southbank Centre||20||A5 tall||Cantors in Concert 1|
|21||2004 Southbank Centre QEH||8||A4*||It’s Chanukah|
|22||2005 July Southbank Centre QEH||12||A4*||Jewish Choirs in Concert|
|23||2005 November Southbank Centre QEH||24||A4*||Jewish Songwriters|
|24||2006 June Southbank Centre QEH||20||A4*||Youth sings and Cantors in Concert2|
|25||2006 Nov mini festival Southbank Centre||24||A4||Borsht to Blighty|
|26||2007 March Arts Depot/Menuhin Sch||16||A4*||Klezmer to Classical|
|27||2007 July LJS St Johns Wood||16||A4*||Kol Isha|
|28||2008 mini festival Southbank Centre||40||A5||Musical Dialogues purple|
|29||2009 Bloch festival Wigmore Hall||12||A5||Goldner Piers Lane|
|30||2009 Bloch festival Wigmore Hall||12||A5||Liebeck|
|31||2011 Purcell Room Southbank||16||A5*||Soundscapes of Israel|
|32||Grand Total of Pages||1146|
|1||1st international conference on Jewish music||A5||1994 April, City University|
|2||2nd international conference on Jewish music||A5||1997 April, City University|
|3||3rd international conference on Jewish music||A4||2000 June, SOAS|
|4||Thwarted Voices: Composition class of Franz Schrecker||A4||2000 July, SOAS|
|5||Impact of Nazism on 20th C music||A5||2008 April, Senate House LU|
|1||1990 March York||136||A5||Clifford’s Tower Commemoration|
|2||1995 November Sacred music festival||100||Tall thin||Special: tall thin b/w|
|3||2000 March SOAS||12||A5||Launch of JMI|
|4||2000 Fundraising document with CD||6||A5||Fundraising with CD|
|5||2003 March SOAS||16||A5||Launch JMI Jewish Music Library|
|6||2003 July SOAS and House of Commons||20||A5||Yiddish Culture Forum Launch|
|7||2006 Round House||12||A5||poster book JMI|