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Diversity in the Diaspora: Yiddish and Sephardic Song Re-imagined
June 23, 2019 @ 2:00 pm
Preservation New Jersey is pleased to present Diversity in the Diaspora: Yiddish and Sephardic Song Re-imagined at the 1867 Sanctuary Arts and Culture Center.
This two-part program presents Yiddish Songs for Soprano, Violin and Piano performed by: Janet Nagourney & Dora Schnur, sopranos; Rachel Katz, violin; and Bill Beitmann piano.
Due to illness, Soprano Meets Bass: Sephardic Treasures performed by: Ana Maria Ruimonte, soprano and Alan Lewine, bass is being rescheduled to a later date.
This program features contemporary settings of both Ashkenazi and Sephardic song that range from classical chamber ensemble settings to a fusion of classical, jazz, Flamenco and Middle Eastern music.
The set of Yiddish Songs arranged by Maks Goldins for soprano, violin and piano transcend the original folk versions and take their place as true chamber music rather than songs with simple accompaniment. Nonetheless, the arrangements capture the traditional folk music essence of each song. Basically, these songs are stories about life and reflect not only the daily existence of Ashkenazi Jews in Eastern Europe but express universal themes. From the homeless Zamele who describes his wife and children as ‘well dressed in rags’, to the wedding song Mechuteneste in which a mother begs her daughter’s mother-in-law to treat her child well, to the woman fearfully telling a neighbor that she knows the identity of a murderer in Brajne, to the exhausted mother begging her baby in Slaf Majn Tochter to go to sleep, to the mother who teases her daughter into admitting that she wants to get married in Jome, Jome, these songs describe the traumas and joys of real life. The themes are as relevant to us today as when the original folk songs were written. The set will be performed by sopranos Janet Nagourney and Dora Schnur, violinist Rachel Katz and pianist Bill Beitmann.
Sephardic Treasures: The Spanish Jewish communities of the Iberian peninsula date to before the arrival of Ceasar more than 2000 years ago. They thrived under Moorish Muslim rule until the Order of Expulsion in 1492 shortly after the reconquest of Spain by the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabel and the subsequent Sephardic Diaspora to North Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Europe and the Americas. Tales of refugees and heroic women with the melodies and Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) lyrics intact, but reimagined in a modern fusion of Classical, Jazz, Flamenco and Middle Eastern music, Sephardic Treasures has been performed by soprano Ana María Ruimonte and bassist Alan Lewine throughout the US, Europe countries and Cuba. A new album of these songs is pending release. Soprano Meets Bass presents a program of Sephardic Treasures (described in one review as “legendary’) selected from secular songs originating in 12th to 15th Century Spain. The women of the Sephardic diaspora around the Mediterranean from Morocco to Palestine were the keepers of these songs. These are tales of refugees and heroic women with the melodies and Ladino lyrics intact, but reimagined in a modern fusion of Classical, Jazz, Flamenco and Middle Eastern music.
Janet Nagourney spent her 13th birthday making her Metropolitan Opera debut in the children’s chorus of Hansel and Gretel. She earned a B.S. in Music Performance from Brooklyn College and while living in NYC performed with the Brooklyn College Chorus. In NJ, she has performed with Princeton Pro Musica, LaShir, and Voices choruses, including performances at Carnegie Hall. . She has performed in concerts for area Jewish organizations including the Beth El Synagogue Seniors Group and Greenwood House. Janet is a founding member of Sharim V’Sharot, and the creator of the Beth El Synagogue Adult Choir. She was conductor of the latter for 18 years before moving to Sarasota, Florida where she sings with the female chamber choral group, Belle Canto and is a dedicated volunteer at Cat Depot. In her day job, Janet is a C.P.A. and prides herself on her volunteer work with small not-for-profit organizations. Janet is also a former member of the Hightstown-East Windsor Lions and of the Board of Directors of Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, and is currently serving as President of the Sarasota Lions Club.
Dr. Dora Schnur studied voice with the late Mme. Marianne Casiello in Philadelphia for many years and currently studies with Karen Hagerman. She has performed numerous recitals and concerts for area Jewish organizations including the Beth El Synagogue Seniors Group, Hadassah and Greenwood House. She is a member of the Jewish choral group LaShir. Her operatic roles included Angelica in a concert production of Suor Angelica with New York Opera Forum. From 1989 to 1996, she lived in St Louis where she performed regularly with the Midland Repertory Players (Opera in the Barn) of Alton, Illinois and studied with Elizabeth Sherman at CASA (St Louis Conservatory for the Arts). Her performances with Midland included the title role in Offenbach’s La Perichole, First Lady in Mozart’s Magic Flute and numerous concerts. She made her operatic debut with the Delaware Valley Lyric Opera in 1985, has performed with various other local opera companies and was a member of Bel Canto Lyric Opera of Philadelphia for many years. Currently, in addition to performing, Dora teaches voice privately in her home. She is a former member of the board of Boheme Opera of New Jersey. In her “other life”, she is an adjunct professor of chemistry at TCNJ. She was a computational chemist/molecular modeler in the pharmaceutical industry for over 20 years and after retirement started her own contract consulting company. She possesses a Ph.D. in chemistry from Temple University where she also studied voice and music history.
Rachel Katz began playing the violin at the age of 8. She studied with Theodore Arm at the University of Connecticut, where she played in the orchestra, and continued in the Campus Orchestra at the University of Michigan. She currently performs with the Westminster Community Orchestra and has played in numerous theatre productions. In 2010, she had the opportunity to perform as part of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Academy with members of the BSO under the direction of Marin Alsop. She also sings with the Beth El Synagogue Choir and is about to undertake cantorial studies. A Russian History and journalism major, she has worked as a reporter including three years covering business, politics and culture in St. Petersburg, Russia, and later covered local news in Connecticut and business and market news for Bloomberg News. Rachel works as a producer at WWFM The Classical Network, where she hosts A Tempo, a public affairs show devoted to current issues in the performing arts.
Bill Beitmann has been playing the piano since around the age of 7. He enjoys playing most types of music and over the years has accompanied singers, instrumentalists, and choirs. In addition, Bill sings with the Central NJ Jewish choir, Sharim v’Sharot as well as the Adath Israel Congregation Adult Choir in Lawrenceville. He works as a Project Manager for the State of New Jersey’s Office of Information Technology. Between his vocation and his avocation, one can usually find him at one keyboard or another—the computer or the piano.
Ana María Ruimonte, born and raised in Madrid, Spain, is a classical singer experienced in roles as both soprano and mezzosoprano. She obtained her degree at Spain’s leading vocal conservatory, the Escuela Superior de Canto of Madrid in 2006, and studied further in Nuremberg, Philadelphia and New York. She was a finalist at international competitions in Foggia, Italy and Classical Singer in the US.Ruimonte has appeared numerous times on Spanish National Radio (RNE). As a resident singer employed by Madrid’s Teatro Real (Royal Theater), she shared the stage with most of the biggest stars of the opera world, such as Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Montserrat Caballé and Dolora Zajick, appearing on CDs released by Deutsche Grammophon and other major labels. She has also appeared on several major European DVD and BluRay releases and frequently on Soanish national television. Later, she spent some years as a full-time tenured member of the National Chorus and Orchestra of Spain (OCNE) and toured the world with conductor Freiburg de Burgos, including appearances in 2009 at Lincoln Center in New York. Since relocating to the US in 2012, Ruimonte has released 4 CDs and performed in Havana and Santiago de Cuba and appeared on television and radio there, and has performed annually since 2016 as part of the International Festival Cubadisco. Her multimedia program about life and music in 17th century Spain, The Cart of Love, has been honored with a featured performance at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, and other places around the world.With renowned bassist/arranger Alan Lewine and Soprano Meets Bass, she helped develop and sings the concerts 9 Centuries of Music in About An Hour and Sephardic Treasures. They have performed these programs and others in Israel, Cuba, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands as well as throughout the United States.
Alan Lewine is a bassist and composer currently living in the Philadelphia region and the founder of Owlsong Productions. Lewine has performed and recorded all over the U.S., Europe and Latin America. Primarily a jazz musician, his influences and experience include all forms of music – medieval Sephardic to afropop as well as all styles of jazz and classical. Lewine began playing string bass in 1978. He studied piano as a child, and later studied composition and arranging. A self-taught bassist, Lewine learned from the mentorship of Milt Hinton early in his career. Other important bass mentors have been Ray Brown, John Clayton, Lynn Seaton, Leroy Vinnegar and Bruce Gertz. Lewine’s first recordings were released in the mid-1980s and have received excellent reviews. Lewine has worked with many of the great names in jazz over the years, including Eddie Daniels, Kenny Davern, Richie Cole, Joe Henderson, Clifford Jordan, Henry Threadgill, Vinnie Golia, Anita O’Day, Sheila Jordan, Mose Allison, Butch Miles, Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis, Roy Hargrove, and old masters like Gus Johnson, Sweets Edison, Mickey Roker, Stephane Grapelli and many others. Lewine minored in music composition as an undergrad and has also studied traditional Ghanaian (Ewe) percussion and performed with Obo Addy and Balinese gamelan with I Nyoman Suadin, flamenco with Julián Vaquero and Victor Monge, and traditional country blues with Johnny Never.
The 1867 Sanctuary Arts and Culture Center is wheelchair-accessible through a wheelchair ramp through the gate on the left side of the building. All parking is across the street in the Ewing Presbyterian Church lots, including an inner ring across the street for disabled parking. Passengers may be dropped off at the curb directly in front of the main entrance; please use your hazard flashers when stopped there. Concert parking is recommended in the north lot (by the field closest to I-295). For your safety, please cross at the marked crosswalk and press the yellow button to activate flashers.
To Purchase Tickets
- $20 for General Admission
- $15 for Friends of the Sanctuary
- $5 for School and College students with ID
- $15 per person for Groups of 10 or more**
Tickets can be purchased online or reserved at the box office for payment by cash, check or credit card by calling 609-392-6409 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets may also be purchased at the door as space allows. (Sorry – we don’t mail tickets. Tickets will be held at the box office and a receipt will be emailed from PayPal if purchased online.)
**GROUP RATES (10 or more people). Group rates apply only to advance online sales and must be purchased in quantities of 10 or more within a single purchase. Group rate tickets cannot be purchased at the box office prior to the concert.
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