Articles written for AUFBAU by Leonard J. Lehrman

Summer Preview: American Jewish Music in Europe AUFBAU 62:14 July 5, 1996 p13
Copyright by Leonard Lehrman & AUFBAU
July 23, 1996

Five exciting concerts of music by American (and mostly Jewish) composers have been planned for July.

On Tuesday, July 2, the Kleines Szene of the Semper Oper in Dresden will present the first European concert by The Long Island Composers Alliance (founded 1972), featuring works by nine American composers, most of them in their European premieres. Included will be Lukas Foss's "Aria" from his Song of Songs, a duet in German from Mira Spektor's Holocaust opera The Lady of the Castle, three songs by women on words by women poets (including Adele Berk's "Night Song at Amalfi"), three settings of poems by William Cullen Bryant (including Leo Kraft's "My Autumn Walk"), and four excerpts sung for the first time in German from Elie Siegmeister's & Norman Rosten's still-unproduced Kleist opera, The Marquesa of O.

Soprano Helene Williams will open the program with four songs from the Siegmeister-Rosten cycle For My Daughters. She will be joined by tenor Ronald Edwards in the world premiere of Leonard Lehrman's setting of Christina Rossetti's "Echo." The major work of the evening will be the first performance in Peter Zacher's German translation of Lehrman's opera The Family Man (German title: Mikischara und seine Kinder), based on the eponymous short story by Mikhail Sholokhov. First performed by Edwards at Stern College in New York in 1984 and by George Shirley in Berlin in 1985, the monodrama r eceived rave notices and promises of a full production in Dresden, which are now eleven years later being partly fulfilled, with piano.

The program was also to have been presented July 7 at the Burg Beeskow Festival, but has, according to former GDR Kulturminister Herbert Schirmer, been cancelled due to a "financial crisis" in the state of Brandenburg.

"A Jiddischer Abend" will be presented by Williams, Edwards and Lehrman both in Dresden and in Berlin: July 3 at "Hatikva" in Dresden; July 8 at the Hackische Hoftheater in Berlin - arranged by Jalda Rebling, who was the subject of an Aufbau interview last October. Highlights of that program include excerpts from Milk and Honey, Yentl, Seymour Barab's Jewish Humor from Oy to Vey, Hugo Weisgall's Di goldene Pave, E.G.: A Musical Portrait of Emma Goldman, and Fiddler on the Roof (including two delicious cabaret numbers cut from the play and the film); Tom Lehrer's "Hanuka in Santa Monica" and Leonard Lehrman's sequel "Goot Yuntif"; "Shir La-Shalom," translated by Gerhard Bronner for this newspaper; and Lehrman's "Every Boy Should Have a Jewish Mother" (also translated by Gerhard Bronner), "In der Fremd," and an excerpt from his forthcoming Bernard Malamud opera Suppose a Wedding: a parable drawn from S. Ansky's The Dybbuk.

Across the continent, in Fontainebleau, France, on July 11 Williams and Lehrman will present a concert of vocal and piano music by four American Jewish composers who studied at the American Conservatory there with Nadia Boulanger, including: Lehrman himself; David Diamond, now in his 81st year, who will be teaching in Paris this summer and plans to attend the event; Elie Siegmeister (1909-1991); and Marc Blitzstein (1905-1964), whose setting of Dorothy Parker's "War Song," recently completed by Lehrman, will receive its world premiere. The major work will be settings of Byron's "My Soul is Dark" (from his Hebrew Melodies) by both Lehrman and Diamond.

The concert will be repeated two days later at the fifth International Naturist Opera Workshop at Belezy in Bedouin, France.

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