University of Leeds International Concert Series

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Event 40: ‘Songs from a forgotten world’: Jewish choral music, old and new

School of Music Choir directed by Stephen Muir

In 1928 Cantor Froim Spektor made the arduous journey by land and sea from Rostov-on-Don in Russia, via London, to Cape Town, South Africa, bringing with him his young family, and a case full of music manuscripts, both his own and those of some of his friends. In doing so, he unknowingly ensured the survival of some of the few remaining vestiges of a musical world now almost forgotten – the world of East European and Russian Jewish culture from before World War II.

‘Songs from a forgotten world’ is inspired by this music, and features works from the Jewish choral tradition old and new. Most prominently, the concert includes the modern-day premiere of Dovid Ayznshtat’s Passover Cantata Chad Gadya (One little goat) for mixed choir, in a new edition by Dr Stephen Muir, who has been researching the migration of Jewish musicians from Russia and Poland to South Africa as part of the ‘Music, Memory and Migration’ project. Ayznshtat’s manuscript is among the papers of Froim Spektor, one of whose pieces also features in the concert alongside classics of the Jewish liturgical tradition by Louis Lewandowski and Salomone Rossi, and more recent works by Ian Sapiro and Gregory Rose.

Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall, School of Music, University of Leeds


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