We are delighted to let you know that we are offering this seminar on 23 January 2023 as part of Dr Diana Matut’s Jewish music course, ‘Yiddish Music for the Stage’.
Monday, 23 January 2023
(Please see poster here)
18:00-19:00 (UK time)
This open classroom is taking place online. Please register at this Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZArcuCtrTsoG9NwNAui9lbjnJZsjmvXTmp3
Concept & Music: Alan BernTexts: Itzik Manger & Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, adapted by Yuri Vedenyapin & Alan Bern
In his Megile Lider, the great Yiddish poet Itzik Manger (1901-1969) fused biblical narratives and 19th-20th-century Yiddish culture to create a wild and dramatic retelling of the Book of Esther.
Manger’s masterpiece serves as the basis for the present project: a contemporary purimshpil created by Alan Bern and a team of international artists. This large-scale production blends traditional Yiddish genres with the creative spirit of the 1920s and 30s.
Manger’s original work–a masterpiece of Yiddish poetry and theater that transcends all shtetl romanticism–is a modernist version of the biblical Purim story: a scathingly humorous, free reinterpretation that also functions as a socio-critical commentary, in which tailor’s apprentices unionize and Esther critically reflects on sexual availability. As late as 1936, the Berlin Jewish Cultural Association planned to set the work to music and produce it–a plan nullified by the increasingly aggressive Nazi policies targeting Jewish cultural institutions.
Now, almost a century later, composer Alan Bern, together with a group of outstanding contemporary artists, has brought to life the immense dramatic potential inherent in Manger’s work.
The megile now appears on the stage in a 21st-century guise. The annual staging of a purimshpil as a piece of dramatic social criticism has been a tradition in Jewish communities for centuries.
The Book of Esther is thus a perfect traditional medium for the artistic reinterpretation of an ancient text. Prepare to be swept away by an all-star cast of Yiddish artists in a mesmerizing evening featuring the dramatic re-creation of a historic gem the like of which has never been seen before–the newest link in a centuries-old chain of purimshpiln.
Dr Alan Bern is the recipient of the prestigious Weimar Prize in 2016, co-founder and chair of Other Music Academy e.V. and creator and artistic director of Yiddish Summer Weimar. He is a composer/arranger, pianist, accordionist, educator, cultural activist and philosopher. In 2017, Bern was honored with the Thuringia Order of Merit.
He is co-founder and director of ‘Brave Old World,’ founder and director of ‘The Other Europeans’ and ‘Diaspora Redux,’ and he also performs with Bern, Brody & Rodach and with Guy Klucevsek.
His education included classical piano with Paul Badura-Skoda and Leonard Shure, jazz with Karl Berger, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton and others, contemporary music with John Cage, Frederic Rzewski, Joel Hoffman and others, and philosophy and cognitive science with Dan Dennett. He received his master’s degree in philosophy and his doctorate in music composition.
In 2009, he was given the Ruth Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as a musician and educator and achievement with ‘Brave Old World.’