I’m very grateful to Mark Peskanov and Bargemusic for hosting my music on three nights next week, as part of their “Here and Now Winter Festival”. This is truly a wonderful honor.
On December 16, join pianist Inna Faliks for the New York premiere of my composition “Voices” for piano and historical recordings.
On December 18 + 19, join me and accordionist Ivan Filipchyk for performances of my piece “The Seven Little Lanes“, that premiered earlier this year in Vilnius.
Ticket links for all three performances can be found here.
“Voices” began as a standalone commission for piano, commissioned by Inna Faliks through the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, inspired by the cantorial music. At some point in the composition process I decided to include the original inspiration, a recording by the great cantor Gershon Sirota and his congregation, into the mix. The resulting piece, “SIrota”, which you can hear above, was one that Inna toured with for nearly a decade.
Both Inna and I thought that the experience of playing with old recordings was very emotional and riveting – so we looked for ways to expand it. Through the generosity of the Lowell Milken Center for the American Jewish Experience at UCLA, I was able to add two more movements — “Alter(ed) Zhok” and “Fraydele”, featuring recordings of an unknown Ukrainian clarinettist from 1912, and of the great New York actress Fraydele Oysher. The entire “Voices” was premiered at UCLA on March 1 2020, one of the very last pre-pandemic events.
“The Seven Little Lanes” is inspired by the memoirs of the Vilna-born poet and writer Chaim Grade (1910-1982). Grade escaped the Holocaust and resettled in New York, but his mother and first wife perished in it. In Grade’s “Seven Little Lanes” (published as part of “My Mother’s Sabbath Days”, 1955), he writes about returning to the Vilna Ghetto, reconnecting with survivors who knew his family, recounting the horror of perseverance and of staying in place, he visits old synagogues, the single remaining one and all others inescapable from memory, with everything culminating in the Neilah, the final prayer of the Yom Kippur service — there is so much more, but you really should read the book instead of my poor-man’s retelling. (The original was written in Yiddish, and I’m aware of translations published in English and Russian.)
My composition, for fadolín and accordion, in seven short movements mirroring Grade’s literary form, offer musical portraits of the Vilna Ghetto, inspired by Grade’s recollections and my own walks. It is a concert piece written as incidental music to a theater play, hoping that one day “Seven Little Lanes” will be adapted as such.
Hoping to see you at Bargemusic on December 16 (for “Voices”) and/or the 18th+19th for “The Seven Little Lanes”.