YAHRZEIT 70: WORDS – MUSIC – FILM
Wednesday 31st August | 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm
JMI are proud to partner with Five Leaves Bookshop to bring you this event. On August 12th 1952, thirteen members of the Soviet Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee were murdered on the orders of Stalin. Join us to commemorate their 70th Yahrzeit.
S. Lozovskii, J. Juzefovich, Prof. B. Shimeliovich, I. Fefer, L. Kvitko, P. Markish, D. Bergelson, D. Hofstein, B. Zuskin, L. Talmi, I. Vatenberg, E. Teumin, and Ch. Vatenberg Ostrovska
Speakers: Gennady Estraikh, Professor, New York University & Dr Helen Beer, Lecturer Emerita, University College London
Music: Polina Shepherd
Followed by Song Searcher, a film about Moyshe Beregovsky, who recorded and studied the traditional music of Ukrainian Jewry in the 1920s, 30s and 40s and who was imprisoned in a Stalinist labour camp in 1950.
Readings from: From Revolution to Repression, edited by the late Joseph Sherman
Introduced by Gennady Estraikh (New York University)
Features original illustrations by Marc Chagall.
The thirty years between the Russian Revolution and Stalin’s destruction of Yiddish culture produced some of the best 20th century writing in Yiddish. Brilliant avant-garde work challenged the best of European modernism during the 1920s. Later Yiddish writers tried to be creative in the middle of the twists and turns of Stalin’s rule. Little of this work has been translated into English, despite many of the writers having a huge international sale in the heyday of Yiddish literature. The Soviet writers include David Bergelson, Peretz Markish and Dovid Hofshteyn.
About the Author
Joseph Sherman taught at the Oriental Institute, Oxford. He has edited a number of books on Yiddish literature and wrote regularly for the Times Literary Supplement and the Jewish press in the USA and South Africa. He died when the book was first close to publication and it will be launched at a meeting in his memory.
Whilst living in Kazan (capital of Tatarstan, Russia) and studying at the State Academy, Polina joined Russia′s first klezmer band after Perestroika, Simkha and toured in dark Soviet theatres, to Boris Yeltsin and to the World in 1998-2002.
She is one of the first generation of musicians of the Yiddish revival scene in Eastern Europe: acting as a programme director, educator and performer she has been involved in festivals, conferences and seminars globally.
Now living in Britain, Polina leads four choirs and continues to tour internationally as a Yiddish and Russian singer. Her compositions, including music for theatre, large and small scale choir pieces and other vocal settings for Yiddish poems are performed by soloists and choirs all over the world.
By VIKO TV company
”The Times and Toils of Moyshe Beregovsky”
This film is the story of a man’s lifelong search for authentic Yiddish folk music and of his unique archive, which was presumed to be lost forever. Moyshe Beregovsky, a musician and scholar, crisscrossed Ukraine with phonograph in hand during the most dramatic years of Soviet history in order to record and study the traditional music of Ukrainian Jewry. His work began in the 1920’s and led to his arrest and imprisonment in a Stalinist labor camp in 1950. Most of those he recorded on hundreds of fragile wax cylinders were shot by the Nazis and tossed into countless mass graves. Ultimately, Beregovsky succeeded in saving the musical heritage of the centuries-old Yiddish civilization. He rescued the Living Voice of his people from the flames of the Holocaust but paid for it with his life.
With this introduction, Yelena Yakovich one of the leading Russian documentary film-makers, begins her latest work, Song Searcher. Filmed on location in Ukraine and many other countries, loaded with rare, unique video-footage and archival audio materials, this film is much more than a mere account of Moyshe Beregovsky’s life and work. Using haunting historical images, the heart-breaking testimony of surviving eyewitnesses and the commentary of renowned international scholars, it tells the awe-inspiring story of Beregovsky’s people, whose song could not be silenced even during the darkest hour in their history.
The music rescued by Beregovsky is heard throughout the film, either in its original archival version or performed live by some of the best contemporary klezmer musicians. As they play this music of the Yiddish soul for appreciative audiences in all corners of the earth, they hope that these old melodies, which laugh through tears and fill hearts with love and humanity, will help heal our broken world.
Director Elena Yakovich
Executive Producer – Victorina Petrossiants