In its first few seasons, Pro Musica Hebraica aims to introduce audiences to the magnificent range of Jewish art music. The concerts will therefore feature a number of different Jewish composers, ranging across time, place and style. The repertoire will also include chamber music for voice and various instrumental ensembles and works for symphony orchestra.
Future concerts currently in preparation include the following:
The Birth of the Jewish Symphony
Where and when was the first Jewish symphony composed? Answering this question leads the curious listener far beyond the arcane realm of musicology into the twists and turns of musical Eastern Europe in the years before, during, and after World War I. This concert will explore several rare Jewish symphonic masterpieces of the 1910s and 1920s, possibly including pieces by Peysakh Lvov, Mikhail Gnesin, Alexander Krein, and Vasilii Zolotarev.
From the Shtetl to the Concert Hall: Folk Music Transformed
A concert exploring the ways in which the composers of twentieth-century Russia, Jewish and otherwise, refashioned the musical folk heritage of East European Jews into some of the most strikingly original modernist music. This concert may include works by Joseph Achron, Abraham Zhitomirskii, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitrii Shostakovich, and others.
Hebrew Melodies, Russian Voices: Vocal Music of the St. Petersburg School
Russian Jewish composers wrote music for three sometimes, four languages—Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, and German. This linguistic polyphony reflected their own divided souls as Jewish folk culture, nationalist politics, and Russian and German all vied for pride of place in their artistic imaginations. This concert will explore this musical—and linguistic—phenomenon through the works of composers Moisei Milner, Alexander Vepirk, Lazare Saminsky, Liubov Shtreikher, Joel Engel, and Alexander Krein on poetry by Chaim Nachman Bialik, Sh. Ansky, Osip Mandelstam, Shimen Frug, and others.
Sounds of the Soul: On the Jewish Musical Mystic
Since ancient times, Jewish religious mystics have viewed music as a special bridge between the world of the spirit and the world of everyday, material existence. Or, as the Zohar, the central kabbalistic text, describes, “There are gates in heaven that can only be opened by means of song.” In the modern age, Jewish composers have often embraced their mystical past in order to engage the world of the spirit. This concert will include works by composers including Yoakhin Stuchevsky, Moses Pergament, Lazare Saminsky, and John Zorn.
When West Looks East: Musical Visions of European and American Jewish Composers
From the late nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth, Jews played a central role in defining the modern music of Central and Western Europe. Often restless innovators determined to stretch artistic boundaries beyond nation or religion, these bold visionaries often turned surprisingly towards the sources of Jewish tradition for inspiration. This concert will include the music of composers such as Gideon Klein, Darius Milhaud, Stefan Wolpe, Alexander Tansman, Eric Zeisel, and Arnold Schoenberg.