We are a team: Mirka Zemanová, a musicologist, journalist, the author of a biography of Leoš Janáček, originator of the Moravian Synagogues Project, and a Czech language coach; Timothy Cheek, pianist, Associate Professor at the University of Michigan and the author of Singing in Czech, a diction guide for English speakers, as well as many performance guides of Czech operas; Jiří Pospíchal, former deputy leader of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra; and myself, Benjamin T. Berman, tenor. Our main purpose is to do honor to Czech Jewish composers, and so our repertoire will include the music of Gideon Klein, Viktor Ullmann, Pavel Haas, as well as to present works related to the Jewish experience in the Czech lands, namely I Never Saw Another Butterfly by the Canadian composer S. I. Glick, and also to exemplify the general Jewish experience, with songs by Jewish-American composer George Gershwin. The selections we present would be in Czech, Yiddish, and English, and would span the twentieth century in a variety of styles including jazz, folk-influence, and a bit of the avant-garde.
Our intention is to make this performance part of a tour of several Jewish sites in Southern Moravian across a span of about ten days, including the synagogues of Třebíč, Mikulov, Hranice, and Krnov. We are in need of further funding – in part to pay for airfare, to pay for lodgings and food during the tour, and to cover the fees for musicians which are above and beyond what local cultural agencies are able to offer us.
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