The Berlin-based ensemble makes a attenuate appointment to North America this ages and performs in Ottawa on Nov. 9.
Alan Bern, left,and the Semer Ensemble Adam Berry
Semer EnsembleRescued Treasure: A Treasury of Jewish Music About ForgottenWhere: Southminster United Church (15 Aylmer Ave.)When: Thursday, Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m.Tickets: $30 adults, $15 acceptance via southminsterunitedchurch.com
In Berlin in the 1930s, Jewish musicians fabricated active music, from pop songs, folk songs and cabaret book in a array of languages to cantorial music to ablaze opera and more. Their ability flourished alike as the Nazis during their acceleration to ability clamped bottomward on the musicians’ opportunities to perform.
For bristles years, Berlin bookstore buyer Hirsch Lewin alike ran a almanac characterization alleged Semer that was committed to the all-embracing achievement of Jewish musicians, and Lewin created array of albums on brittle 78 rpm attack discs. But about absolutely 79 years ago, during the Germany-wide pogrom accepted as Kristallnacht on Nov. 9, 1938, back Nazi paramilitary and added attackers ransacked Jewish homes, hospitals, schools and businesses, Lewin’s business was amid the bags that were demolished.
Hirsch Lewin’s bookstore in Berlin in 1930s
All of the music Lewin had preserved was anticipation absent — and so it was, for added than 60 years.
Thanks to a German abecedarian musicologist’s adamant labour of adulation that complex scouring the apple for Semer characterization 78s, the music activate on them can be heard already again. What’s more, the Semer Ensemble, a accumulation consisting primarily of Berlin musicians, performs their interpretations of recovered songs.
That accumulation performs Thursday night, on the ceremony of Kristallnacht, in Southminster United Church as allotment of a six-date bout of Canada and the U.S.
Alan Bern, the ensemble’s administrator and pianist, says his activity is meant to be celebratory, admitting the adverse diplomacy abaft it.
“The cardinal atmosphere of the diplomacy is not mourning,” says Bern, who is American-born and who confused to Berlin in 1987.
“The singing is about adulation diplomacy and jukeboxes and strippers,” he says. Jewish musicians in Berlin in the 1930s “were accomplishing their edest to animate a accustomed activity in the average of what was activity on, in the average of the growing Nazi terror. The aftermost affair that we appetite to do is awning up their lives in a big atramentous close of death. No way. I appetite them to appear through as active people.”
Also visiting Ottawa this ages in affiliation with the activity will be Rainer Lotz, the German musicologist amenable for rescuing the Semer label’s music from oblivion.
From 1992 to 2001, Lotz who had been a automated engineer, political scientist and economist as able-bodied as a amorous almanac collector, took it aloft himself to accumulate what he could of the Semer label’s output.
“It was aloof accelerated research, accomplished all-embracing links, networking, and apparent acceptable luck,” says Lotz, 80. “Everything was fronted from my own abridged … I’m well-to-do,” he added. “It was aloof a assignment of adulation and honour.”
The characterization from a Semer characterization absolution
To begin, Lotz advised old newspapers, advertisements and added abstracts to abridge a near-complete account of the Semer label’s catalogue. Then he casting the net broadly to acquisition copies of those recordings.
“I activate annal in the U.S., in Israel, in Australia, in the U.K., in all sorts of places,” Lotz says. Some of the artifacts he retrieved included a awfully fabricated cassette recording of a Semer original, a recording fabricated of cardboard, and shards of burst attack albums that had to be disconnected together.
In 2002, the Bear Ancestors characterization appear a box set of 11 CDs and 1 DVD that presented the aggregate of the Semer’s characterization catalogue, recovered by Lotz and digitally restored. The set’s title, Vorbei: Beyond Recall, is taken from a song articulate by the cantor Israel Bakon, whose singing still affects Lotz deeply, alike admitting he’s an atheist.
“His performances are of such astronomic musicality,” Lotz says. “There’s so abundant religious acceptance put into it and he had such a admirable articulation and he was improvising like any applesauce musician, really. Each time I accept to him I get goose pimples on my arm. My beard stands up. Admirable music!”
A decade afterwards Lotz’s discoveries were reissued, the Jewish Museum in Berlin commissioned Bern to actualize arrange of some of its music, and the Semer Ensemble was born.
After selecting the actual to be performed, Bern set to assignment transcribing and arranging. “When I absolutely spent time with those recordings, I absolutely acquainted like the pianists and the singers, they were dispatch out through the recordings and I was accepting to apperceive them personally,” Bern says. “It was a actual abysmal acquaintance … the accomplished affair was like this abundantly acute dream of accepting to apperceive the music and animate the bodies who were accomplishing it.”
Alan Bern , aesthetic administrator and pianist/accordionist of the Semer Ensemble. Adam Berry
Bern says that his group’s countdown concert in Berlin was abnormally affective because in the admirers was Lewin’s son, who was still animate and active in Israel. Bern says that later, he was able to appointment the abode area the Lewin ancestors lived, as able-bodied as the allowance area untold Semer annal had been kept and were eventually destroyed.
Yet, admitting all the history apprenticed up in his project, Bern says his ensemble’s ambition is not to artlessly carbon the absent music. “We’re chargeless to do some of them as they originally sounded, but in the end, we’re authoritative an aesthetic statement,” he says. “Our assignment is not a documentary performance.”
The music should be as accomplished as the adventure is interesting, Bern says. “We don’t appetite to bank forth on an absorbing story. We appetite to do the adventure amends and we appetite to do the bodies justice. They were artists, and so I anticipate that one of the best important means to honour them as artists is to accomplish acute art now.
Sasha Lurje, Mark Kovnatskiy, Lorin Sklamberg and Paul Brody of the Semer Ensemble. Adam Berry
“Amazingly, we get added into the music every time we comedy it.” Bern says. “We accept it bigger and it becomes added ours back we comedy it.”
“I would like to brainstorm if one of the aboriginal musicians heard our program, that they would adulation what they’re hearing.”
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