This Monday on WETA-FM: Broadcast of Pro Musica Hebraica’s Concert of the Musical Legacy of Jewish Spain.

On Monday, August 22, 2016 at 9 pm (EST), WETA’s Front Row Washington will broadcast Pro Musica Hebraica’s Fall 2015 concert, Piety and Passion: The Musical Legacy of Jewish Spain.

In the first-ever exploration of this unique legacy, Pro Musica Hebraica presented a concert of Sephardic and Spanish Jewish music. Audience favorites the Amernet String Quartet, Ensemble-in-Residence at Florida International University, returned with friends, mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway and guitarist Adam Levin, to explore medieval Sephardic ballads and modern masterpieces by composers Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Joaquín Rodrigo, Carlos Cruz de Castro, and Alberto Hemsi.

To listen to the concert on Monday night, Washington-area residents can tune in to WETA 90.9 FM. If you live outside of the DC area, you can tune in live on WETA’s website.

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Reviving the Musical Legacy of the Jews of China

Amy Qin writes about the musical revival in Harbin, a city in the northeastern region of China:

During the 1920s, the city was home to as many as 20,000 Jews. Some were refugees who wanted to escape czarist pogroms in Russia and, later, the Bolshevik Revolution and World War I. But unlike the Jews in Shanghai and other China cities with large Jewish communities, many in Harbin were also merchants and entrepreneurs who had come from Russia and Europe seeking economic opportunities.

“In a sense, the Harbin Jews were more wealthy and aristocratic than the other Jews in China,” [said Dan Ben-Canaan, director of the Sino-Israel Research and Study Center at Heilongjiang University in Harbin]. “They built a much richer and stronger foundation for culture.”

Read the rest in the New York Times.

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Czech-born composer Alexander Goldscheider on Elie Wiesel

Via Norman Lebrecht, a memoir of Elie Wiesel by the Czech-born composer Alexander Goldscheider:

Elie Wiesel died yesterday and I shall leave to others to disseminate and fully appreciate his unique legacy.

But hardly anybody will know that Elie Wiesel would have died already back in 1945, had he not been, like so many others, saved from being sent to death in Buchenwald by a Czech co-prisoner, Jiří Žák.

Read the rest.

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James Loeffler: How an American Jewish Opera Star Accidentally Launched the Soviet Jewish Movement

Professor James Loeffer on the 60th anniversary of Jan Peerce’s landmark Cold War Moscow show:

“The walls have ears.” In the Soviet Union, someone was always listening. But when it came to music, the regime built on eavesdropping proved remarkably tone-deaf. That is the lesson that American Jewish opera star Jan Peerce learned during his 1956 Moscow concert tour. Sixty years ago this week, he walked onstage at the Moscow Conservatory and stepped into an unscripted role as the West’s first lifeline to Soviet Jewry in the post-Stalin era. With one last-minute encore, he unwittingly helped spark the Soviet Jewish movement.

Proudly American, sentimentally Jewish, and steadfastly apolitical, Peerce was an unlikely Cold War activist…

Read the rest at the Tablet.

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Review of our spring concert: “jaw-droppingly beautiful”

From Fauxkklore’s review of our spring concert, Wandering Stars: Two Centuries of European Jewish Song.

Russell was a revelation. His rich bass is perfectly suited to the Yiddish art songs he performed, which included a piece by Sidor Belarsky, as well as Belarsky’s arrangements of other composer’s songs. Russell has made a specialty of Belarsky’s music and that’s really quite a musical bashert. (Before someone asks, that’s a Yiddish word that means “destiny” and is usually used in relationship to marriage.) I particularly liked his performance of Israel Alter’s “Akhris Hayomim.”….

The highlight of the concert was Anthony Russell’s final set, again of pieces primarily arranged by Sidor Belarsky, but by various scomposers. Shmuel Polonsky’s “Mayn yungt” and Zelig Bardichever’s “Bessarabi” were straightforward songs of longing and memory. “Viglid” by Leyb Yampolsky followed and is literally a lullaby, but the lyrics reflect the inability to provide the good life a parent wants for a child. Russell’s resonant voice was simultaneously soothing and sad. He closed the set even more powerfully with the combination of two traditional songs – the African American piece “My Soul is Anchored in the Lord” and the Jewish prayer “Va’ani Tefilati,” which is one of the most beautiful parts of the High Holiday liturgy. This was jaw-droppingly beautiful. In short, Russell (who is an African-American Jew by choice, by the way) conveyed such sheer spiritual power that I can’t imagine any audience member was unmoved. Yasher koach!

Read the rest.

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