Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts
10268 Yonge St
LOST YIDDISH SONGS FROM WORLD WAR II IN THE USSR RECEIVE THEIR WORLD PREMIERE IN TORONTO!
NEW SUPERGROUP UNITES LEGENDS IN RUSSIAN JEWISH AND CANADIAN MUSIC:RUSSIA’S PSOY KOROLENKO AND TRIO LOYKO, CANADIAN VOCALISTS SOPHIE MILMAN AND ISAAC ROSENBERG, ACCORDIONIST ALEXANDER SEVASTIAN, TRUMPETER DAVID BUCHBINDER AND CLARINETIST/CONDUCTOR SHALOM BARD.
An all-star supergroup has come together to resurrect Yiddish songs from World War II that were thought lost to history.
A few years ago, a tremendous discovery was made in Kiev, Ukraine. In the manuscript department of the Ukrainian National Library, archivists found a number of sealed boxes. They contained hand-written Yiddish documents dating back to 1947. Upon examination, it turned out that the pages contained thousands of songs, written by Yiddish-speaking Jews in Ukraine during World War II. Leading Soviet Jewish ethnomusicologists and linguists, including the legendary Moisei Beregovsky, had archived this music by Jewish refugees, Jewish soldiers in the Red Army and Holocaust survivors, who had defied Hitler in song. Stalin’s authorities arrested Beregovsky and his colleagues in 1950, and the documents were sealed. Scholars believed them to have been destroyed forever. Only recently, University of Toronto professor Anna Shternshis learned of these songs. In a dramatic discovery, reminiscent of the last scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Shernshis found the songs buried deep in the archive. None has been performed in nearly 70 years. Until now. Shtershis worked with Psoy Korolenko, a poet, philologist, and performer of Yiddish music, reconstruct the tunes for these songs. The process was similar to that of archaeological digs, as they analyzed scarce supplementary notes, contextualized the lyrics, and took a leap of imagination.
In concert will be some or all of the artists featured on a recording of the found music, being produced by Shternshis and Dan Rosenberg. They include the following:
Psoy Korolenko (vocals), one of Russia’s most popular – and clever – songwriters, as well as a pre-eminent Yiddish singer, and one of the very few creating new material in the language. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psoy_Korolenko)
Sophie Milman, JUNO Award-winning singer born in Russia, raised in Israel and now living in Toronto. She burst on the scene as a teenager in 2004 with her captivating jazz performances. (http://sophiemilman.com)
Loyko (violins, guitar): The virtuosic Russian trio of classical, conservatory-trained violinists Sergey Erdenko and Artur Gorbenko, and guitarist Mike Savichev has made a career performing Roma (Gypsy) music magic at an elite level, completely reinventing the genre and pushing the performance limits of their instruments. (www.loyko.net)
Alexander Sevastian, from the Belarus capital of Minsk, now living in Thornhill, Ontario, is widely considered among the world’s greatest accordionists, in both folk music and classical. (http://alexandersevastian.com)
Shalom Bard, born in Haifa, Israel, is a highly respected orchestral, chamber and folk clarinetist and was the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s first RBC Resident Conductor. (www.shalombard.com)
David Buchbinder (trumpet), award-winning composer, producer and cultural inventor, creator of the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, Shurum Burum Jazz Circus and the Ashkenaz festival. (www.davidbuchbinder.ca)
Anna Shternshis is the Al and Malka Green Professor of Yiddish and the acting director of the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. A specialist in Soviet Yiddish culture, she is the author of the book Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923 – 1939. (http://german.utoronto.ca/anna-shternshis)
Isaac Rosenberg (b. 2003) is a member of the Octava Choir, and sings in Russian, English, French and Yiddish. He will perform songs written during World War II by an 11-year old who lost his family during the Holocaust.
More information about Shternshis’ discovery of the lost Yiddish songs of the Holocaust in the U.S.S.R. is at http://ingeveb.org/blog/ironic-inversions-rare-soviet-yiddish-songs-of-wwii.