Concert Portraits and Remembrance

National Museum Belgrade
27th January 2019

The "Portraits and Remembrance" concert is a significant part of the Rosi Fest program and is the only part of the festival that is constantly on the program of all festival editions. On the occasion of the World Day of Remembrance for Holocaust Victims, the program will consist of works made by young composers selected at the Competition for Composers: "Portraits and Remembrance", as well as representative works composed by Jewish authors and historical works that correspond to the theme of the concert.

 

By participating in the Rosi Fest Competition Composers, young composers have the opportunity to contribute to the world's cultural heritage in the area of preserving memories of Holocaust victims and giving honour to those who opposed it, using historical literature and other sources as an inspiration or part of their compositions. The Artistic Committee of the festival selects the most representative performances for the concert each year.

 

This year, applications from countries around the world have been received (Luxembourg, Portugal, Croatia, Hungary, Iran, Mexico, Italy, Serbia, Uruguay, Kadana, Brazil, BiH, France , Israel, Russia, China, UK, South Africa, Armenia, Montenegro, USA, Ukraine), with nearly fifty compositions. The Artistic Committee of the Festival selected five pieces, of the following authors: Lazar Djordjevic (Serbia), Nina Perovic (Montenegro), Bracha Bdil (Israel), Ben Lunn (UK) and Guy Ben-Tov (Israel). In addition to the various chamber ensembles that will be presented to us that evening, Jewish Chamber Orchestra, the Baruch Brothers Choir and the Synagogal Ensemble Berlin will also take part in performing on the concert.

This year, festival recieved entries from over twenty countries around the world from nearly fifty compositions, and the Artistic Committee of the Festival selected five compositions, from following composers: Ben Lunn (UK), Bracha Bdil (Israel), Gay Ben-Tov (Israel), Nina Perovic (Montenegro) and Lazar Djordjevic (Serbia). 

Beside the Baruch Brothers choir and Jewish Chamber Orchestra, Synagogal Ensemble Berlin and vocal soloists and musicians gathered in various instrumental ensembles, performed at the concert.
The concert was conducted by Regina Yantian (Germany), Stefan Zekic and Djordje Perovic.

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Nina Perović

Nina Perović has completed her basic and specialist studies of composition at Music Academy in Cetinje in the class of professor Žark Mirković. She graduated piano in the class of Professor Alexander Serdar, and she completed her specialist studies in the class of Professor Vladimir Bockarjev. Thanks to the scholarship “Basileus” she continued her studies of composing at the Music Academy in Ljubljana, in the class of professor Uros Rojko, where she gained Master's degree. She completed her PhD studies in the class of professor Srdjan Hofman, at the Faculty of Music in Belgrade.

She has been studying at numerous courses abroad with renowned international composers such as Klaus Lang, Peter Ablinger, Georg Friedrich Has, Beat Furer, Dmitry Kourliandski, Vinko Globokar, Nigel Osborn and others.

She is engaged as an associate in teaching and as a guest lecturer at the Music Academy of Cetinje.z

Withesses

The text of this piece consists of two different and quite remote texts. The first one, that the piece is named after, is a testimony of German military doctor that served on Russian front, taken from Hannah Ardent`s Eichmann in Jerusalem, and is "among the very few subjectively sincere memoirs of its kind" (The New Yorker) and the second one is Mirko Banjević`s poem "Nad sobom nevječnim". The musical material is systematically organized by the looks of a keyboard and the relationship between black and white keys, where the note `D` has the `main role`. The soprano interprets the text of the poem, while the narrator delivers the textual basis of the testimony. The diligence and the simplicity of the music material, as well as the meaning and relationship of the two texts, invite the listener for inner viewing of this problematics and ethical values of that time`s individuals and society, but also of the time we live in."

Braha Bdil

Bracha Bdil, composer and pianist, born in 1988, has a B.ed in Music Education from Levinsky College and a Master's degree in Music Education and Composition from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, led by Professor Andre Hajdu, o.b.m. and Professor Haim Permont.

Bracha won the first prize in the Wolf Durmashkin Composition Award, Germany, the first prize in the Yardena Alotin Composition Competition, Bar-Ilan University, Israel, and a prize in the International Choral Writing Competition named after A.D Kastalsky – Moscow.

Her repertoire includes orchestral music, chamber, vocal and electronic music, as well as music for dance and theatre.

Her compositions have been performed around the world, including: "China International Choir Festival" - Beijing, "Belt and Road World Choir Festival" - Hong Kong, "International Jewish-German Festival" – Bavaria, Concert sponsored by the "Russian Musical Union" - Saint-Petersburg, "The Schnittke Festival" - Seratov-Russia, "Société de Concerts de Montréal" – Canada, and more.

Bracha Bdil is a member of the Israel Composers' League and her works are often performed on Israeli stages and the Israeli radio.

Starting from season 2018-9 Bracha has been appointed as artistic director and chief conductor of the women's "Zmora" orchestra in Jerusalem.

 

Hayom

"This day He causeth all the creatures of the universe to stand in judgment. Have mercy upon us, O Thou, who art tremendous, holy".

(Jewish prayer book)

The composition "Hayom" is for a Tenor and Horn. It is a soloist meditative composition which is performed entirely behind the scenes in a dark hall. The soloist tenor hums pentatonic decorated melodic lines that imitate ancient 'genesis' singing. Further on a horn joins in and imitates the tenor line like an echo and creates a dialogue with it. Further on the tenor sings the words of poetry which are said on Rosh-Hashanah.

 

Comment:

"This day" – mining the holly important day which G-d is judging all human beings for their past acts and determines their future, for good or for bad. The composition ends with a horn blast that connotes the blowing of the shofar – the Jewish symbol of that special day - Rosh Hashanah (the first day of the Jewish New Year) - the day that human being was created and is to be judged for his acts.

Gaj Ben Tov

Guy Ben-Tov is an Israeli born composer-performer and video artist, currently residing and studying in Austria.

The conflict between the absolute power bestowed upon the artist (composer/director) and the need for collaborators (performers/actors) to achieve an artistic vision, is currently a fundamental element in his aesthetic and moral approach to artmaking.

Exploring a wider definition of the relations between performer and composer, in 2018 he formed "Ungrateful Ambassadors", a composer/performer duo with Mathilde Vendramin.

Currently finishing his Master’s degree in Composition and Music Theater at the Kunst Universität Graz under the guidance of Prof. Beat Furrer and Bernhard Lang.

During various workshops, festivals and other musical activities he had the opportunity to study with Mark Andre, Matthew Shlomowitz, Dimitra Trypani, Jennifer Walshe, Klaus Lang, Hannes Seidl, Rebecca Saunders, Milica Djordjevic and Marco Blaauw.

His pieces have been performed in Israel (Va’Yissa Meshallo Va’Yomar - Modalius Ensemble at the Israeli Music Festival), Turkey (Zrima -Herzafen Ensemble in Ankara), Germany (Ḥibur-חיבור in Darmstädter Ferienkurse 2018), Austria (YomoLedeT and Song of Food-ensemble B.i.R.D as part of “Obsession Zeichnen” an exhibition in the BRUSEUM, Neue Galerie, Graz), Greece, and Italy.

 

Liebe Luise! - for Voice, Classical Guitar, Clarinet, Piano, Cello and Contrabass

The texts in the piece are from a letter written shortly after WW2 by a German friend of my great grandmother, telling her about the last days of her parents in the concentration before they were murdered.

In this piece, I am trying through very limited use of the instruments to present memories as unreliable and the past as a fading image, the past can be remembered in various ways and there is never a single monolithic objective perspective.

This is the first movement of a bigger project I'm working on, but it could also be performed as a self-contained piece.

Ben Lun

His music has been described as ‘Evocative’, ‘Restrained Otherwordliness’, ‘Chilling’, ‘sophisticated and most importantly obsessive’ or ‘produces…glorious roaring sounds’ and ‘desolate monotone’. He has also been referred to as a ‘Composer of life music’.

Ben Lunn is a Mackem composer who studied in the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama under the guidance of Peter Reynolds, as well as studying in the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre with Marius Baranauskas. He has also received guidance from Param Vir. Since graduating from his Master’s he now resides in Glasgow, working in various elements including conducting, musicology, teaching and composing.

His work has been featured in many leading international festivals including Vale of Glamorgan, London New Wind Festival, Druskomanija, Leeds Leider+, Zilele Muzicale Aniversare, HASS FEST, Toronto Contemporary Music Lab, and Occupy the Pianos. He has had the privilege of working with leading international ensembles and soloists like N.A.M.E.S, Sofia Soloists, Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Synaesthesis, Music Theatre Wales, Ligeti Quartet, OeNM, Ensemble X and Y, Nikolai Matsov, Rolf Hind, Francoise-Green Duo, Zubin Kanga, Martynas Levickis, JVLMA, and Jauna Muzika.

Currently, he has been made an associate artist for Drake Music. And in October he was appointed Trainee Artistic Director of the Hebrides Ensemble. Ben Lunn is also featured in the British Music Collection and the British Council’s Disability Arts Online as a featured artist. He is published by Oriana Productions

T-4 for Violin, Cello, Alto Trombone, Motion Detection, and Electronics

T-4 makes reference to the Nazi euthanasia programme where thousands of disabled people were sterilised, experimented on, and murdered simply for being seen as 'defective'. The piece constantly references names of some of those lost and parallels them with disabled people being killed as a result of the British government's austerity measures. In short, it asks have we learnt our lesson from the past or are we repeating the same horrific mistakes?

Lazar Djordjevic

Lazar Djordjevic was born in 1992 in Kragujevac. In 2010 he enrolled in basic academic studies of composition at the Faculty of Music in Belgrade, in the class of Zoran Eric, a full-time professor. He is currently a student of the final year of doctoral academic studies. Lazar Đorđević was trained abroad by attending compositional workshops led by composers Peter Ablinger, Vinko Globokar, Stephen McNeff, Sidney Corbett, Johannes Kretz, Yann Robin... The compositions by Lazar Djordjevic were performed several times in the country and abroad. Apart from his own compositions, many of Djordjevic's orchestrations of other authors, as well as the works in the field of applied music, have been performed. For the composition “Jednom sam negde čuo...” for clarinet, accordion and string quartet (2016) he received an international award for the best composition at the contest "New Serbian Music for the Accordion" at the International Festival of Accordions “Eufonija”. He is a prize-winner from the "Stevan Hristic" Foundation in 2015 and "Josip Slavenski" Foundation in 2017. He is the author of the first Serbian concert for accordion and orchestra, premiered in 2017 at Novi Sad. Lazar Đorđević is currently employed as an assistant at the Department of Music Theory at the Faculty of Music Arts in Belgrade.

 

IV postcards from 1944

The inspiration for making this piece is the author`s first encounter with Bor`s Notebook (Bori notes) of Miklós Radnóti. This "continuous lyric report on calvary and confrontation with calvary", as said by Aleksandar Tišma in the foreword, has its culmination in four postcards from 1944. The piece is written for a reciter and chamber ensemble consisting of flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, piano, violin, viola and double bass, and the poetics of the piece is a result of the author`s exploring of sound colour and timbre of many years and of his constant search for the new means of expression.

The form of the piece depicts in its four sections each of the four Radnóti`s postcards. Radnóti`s poem that is not a part of the postcards, but has made a strong impression of the author, appears as a leitmotif of the piece.

Oratorio "Todesfuge" (Paul Celan), by Anna Segal

Well known Israeli contemporary composer Anna Segal has extensive musical experience. She is working with different musical collectives and has been lucky to collaborate with the Berliner Symphonic Orchestra in Berlin and the great Israeli conductor Lior Shambadal. She composes music for orchestra, choir, quintet, suites, pieces for solo instruments, film scores as well as music for children.

One of her latest pieces has been focussed around the Holocaust. She wanted to create something important that, in artistic form, will tell the world more about this tragedy. By chance, a friend drew her attention to the poetry of Paul Celan. And the jigsaw puzzle was completed.

The poem is in narrative form and is from the perspective of the persecuted Jewish people. The poem begins with a very bright image – “black milk…” The white milk in Celan´s poetry turns black, symbolic of the world turning over to pain and horror.

The obsessive repetition of those lines being the only thing left when all capacity to think is lost in the darkness.

Celan’s poem does not have a happy end, and it cannot be in that situation, so Anna Segal decided to take a line from another well-known Celan’s poem “Tenebrae” for the end of this composition. In the final lines, the Jewish people ascend to “heaven”, they are next to the Lord. It seems to her that this is a symbolic end, so the last passage sound in major, as a symbol of hope and forgiveness.

When this musical piece was finished, Anna Segal played it to her grandmother Frida, who survived the Holocaust. She could not listen to the end, tears welling in her eyes. The Israeli composer will dedicate the premiere of “Todesfuge” at the festival to her grandmother. Anna Segal´s personal interpretation of Paul Celan´s poem is taking the listener on a journey into the memory of the Jewish people. The music is giving the poetry of Celan colour and maybe a new life.

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Synagogal Ensemble Berlin

The ensemble consists of eight to twelve singers who work as freelance soloists or belong to the Berlin opera choirs. The Synagogal Ensemble Berlin is the only ensemble in the world that brings the liturgy of Louis Lewandowski to music every Friday night, Shabbat morning and on all Jewish holidays.

In his concerts with the Synagogal Ensemble Berlin, Cantor Isaac Sheffer brings this unique Jewish-German tradition into the world, with compositions by other great composers of the 19th century such as Salomon Sulzer and Samuel Naumbourg as well as from the 20th century such as Kurt Weill, Maurice Ravel, Ben Steinberg, Meir Finkelstein and others. The ensemble performs again and again in Poland, England and France.

 

Regina Yantian, director of the Synagogal Ensemble Berlin

Already at the age of 12, Regina Yantian became interested in organ music. At the age of fifteen, she began her education as an organist and choirmaster and subsequently studied comparative musicology and Jewish studies in Jerusalem and Berlin. Since 1998 she is organist and choirmaster of the synagogue Pestalozzistraße in Berlin-Charlottenburg.

For many years Yantian sang herself in the synagogue choir and got her artistic impulses through her work with Cantor Estrongo Nachama. She is also the director of the Synagogue Ensemble Berlin, which is known far beyond the borders of Berlin.

Yantian is particularly proud of her latest project: since 2011 she has been Artistic Director of the Louis Lewandowski Festival, inviting synagogue choirs from all over the world to dedicate themselves to Louis Lewandowski's tradition. As part of the cultural program, the municipalities have two programs to choose from European and American Synagogal Music of the 19th and 20th Century and Jewish songs from Eastern Europe and Israel.

​Jewish Chamber Orchestra

Jewish Chamber Orchestra was founded in 2012 by Ladislav Mezei in cooperation with B'nei B'rit lodge of Serbia. The members of the orchestra are professional  musicians of Jewish descent and their friends. The JCO's primary purpose is to present the music of Jewish composers, as well as the others, whose written work was inspired by Jewish themes. Their interpretations are related to tradition, culture and history of Jewish community of Serbia.

​The Baruch Brothers Choir

The Baruch Brothers Choir from Belgrade was established as the Serbian-Jewish Singers Society in 1879, with the goal of cherishing and performing the cultural and artistic heritage and tradition of the Jewish people which lives in these parts. The Society changed its name in 1952 to the current name in commemoration of the three brothers from the progressive revolutionary Jewish family of Baruch, members of the resistance movement who were killed during the pogroms of the Nazi regime during the Second World War.

 

Joshua Jacobson (Boston, USA), conductor and a renowned researcher in the field of Jewish music, has concluded that this choir is the oldest active Jewish choir in the world.

 

From the year of its foundation until today, the choir has held numerous concerts and participated in many competitions and festivals in the former Yugoslavia (Yugoslav Choral Festivities in Nish, Mokranjac’s Days in Negotin, BEMUS, BELEF, Choirs among the Frescoes in Belgrade and others), as well as abroad (Israel, USA, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, the Netherlands, Hungary, Spain, UK and others).

 

Among the most important performances of the choir, we would like to mention the concert in Carnegie Hall in 1978, as well as the attendance of our choir on numerous occasions at the most important Jewish choir festival Zimriya in Jerusalem. Our ensemble has gradually perfected its performance under the conductorship of the most eminent conductors and composers of our country (S. S. Mokranjac, J. Marinković, S. Hristić, B. Babić, B. Pašćan, A. S. Vujić, et al.), having gained under their guidance a high level of artistic interpretation and superb discipline in stage performance.

 

The repertory of the choir consists of representative works of musical literature from both Jewish and Serbian composers, as well as all the most important works of the classical choir repertory of all styles and epochs and the works of modern composers.

 

The Baruch Brothers Choir has been awarded two times for the cultural affirmation of its country by the presidency of Serbia, and in the past five years, the choir won many significant awards.

The choir’s admirable success was largely achieved by the contribution of its conductor, Stefan Zekic, and the president, Branka Cvejic - Mezei.

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