Sound Salon: Alicia Svigals and Uli Geissendoerfer: Beregovski Suite

March 21, 2019

Sound Salon: Alicia Svigals and Uli Geissendoerfer: Beregovski Suite

Free and Open to the Public

Thursday, April 4, 2019
Morphy Recital Hall, Mead Witter School of Music, 455 N. Park St.

Join composer/violinist–and the world’s foremost klezmer fiddler–Alicia Svigals and jazz pianist Uli Geissendoerfer for a night of Ukrainian klezmer music performed with a contemporary spin. Svigals is a founder of the Grammy-winning Klezmatics, and almost singlehandedly revived the tradition of klezmer fiddling with her debut album Fidl. Geissendoerfer is a German-American pianist, composer and educator, originally from Munich, who has worked with among others William Cepeda (awarded a Grammy nomination), Groove Collective, Giovanni Hidalgo, Blood Sweat & Tears, Leslie Uggams, Tito Puente, Cirque du Soleil, Kofo the Wonderman, Ute Lemper, David Cassidy, several symphonies, the Connecticut Opera, and more. He is currently teaching at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he leads the Latin Jazz Ensemble.

In the 1930’s a Jewish scholar from the Ukraine named Moshe Beregovski set out, with eery prescience, to collect and preserve the deep and rich Jewish musical tradition around him. On what turned out to be the eve of the destruction of European Jewry, Beregovski organized expeditions to Ukrainian “shtetlekh” (small Jewish towns) and sought out the eldest singers and instrumentalists he could find, asking them to pour their collective folk knowledge into his recording horn. In this way he managed to save thousands of beautiful Jewish folk songs, klezmer dance tunes and religious melodies on wax cylinders, the medium of the day. A few years afterwards, the culture he had documented was destroyed in the Holocaust, and Beregovski himself was arrested and sent to the Gulag. He never saw his work published in his lifetime, and for decades it was thought that those precious and important recordings were gone forever as well. But in the 1980’s ethnomusicologist Mark Slobin published Beregovski’s transcriptions of his collection–Mills Music Library has the score Old Jewish Folk Music: The Collections and Writings of Moshe Beregovski, and the book Jewish Instrumental Folk Music: The Collections and Writings of Moshe Beregovski and its accompanying CD–and in the 1990’s, with the opening of the Soviet Union, the cylinders were unearthed in a dusty archive in Kiev. Now those long-forgotten melodies and voices are beginning to speak to us again.

The concert will last 75 minutes, without an intermission.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia; the Center for Jewish Studies; and the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture, with support from the Mead Witter School of Music and Mills Music Library.