Canadian Language Museum
The Music of Yiddish Blessings and Curses -Travels through Toronto
Brody’s introductory talk at the Canadian Language Museum:
Part 2: Blessings and Curses Voice-Melody Improvisations
The Music of Yiddish Blessings and Curses is a sound installation commissioned by the Canadian Language Museum in Toronto. Paul Brody interviewed Yiddish speakers throughout the city to explore their favourite curses and blessings, as well as the stories and memories behind them.
Brody was expecting that the blessings and curses would reveal a treasure of Yiddish culture — the food, the suffering, the humour and irony — but what he also found was an underlying Yiddish vocal pattern to narrating hope and community. He discovered that as the Yiddish speakers, young and old, invoked the traditional Yiddish sayings, the emotionality in their voices revealed the musicality of ‘speaking Yiddish.’ Brody recalls:
I became fascinated by how my interviewee’s voice-melody often shifted from conversational to a melodic, almost singing voice, through the uttering of a blessing or a curse.
Brody uses these voice-melodies as a compositional basis for the project, blending documentary and artistic interpretations. In a broader sense, the sound installation explores the dialectic of traditional and spontaneity, formulaic and the fluctuating, sacred and secular.
Yiddish blessings and curses reveal a musical language that is uniquely Yiddish. During her interview, Miriam Borden explains, The words might not be in Yiddish, but the way of talking is Yiddish.
Drawing on his work with both contemporary Jewish music and radio documentaries, Brody creates a five-part suite for his sound installation: 1. Talking Yiddish 2. Bagel Hell 3. Curse Composition 4 Feeling Family 5 Belly Blessing
The final Toronto exhibition will add two more dimensions. Brody is asking musicians around the world to respond to his recordings of Yiddish blessings and curses with their own short musical improvisations based on the the voice-melodies of Yiddish blessings and curses. Visual contributions will come from Miriam Borden, a doctoral student at the Centre of Jewish Studies
at the University of Toronto. Portraits of the people who were interviewed for the project and key phrases will be displayed graphically.
Musicians on Part I Berlin-Vienna-Toronto klezmer scene: Alan Bern-accordion, Christian Dawid-clarinet, Daniel Weltlinger-violin, Peck-Kubaczek, Cynthia-cello, Benjy Fox-Rosen-bass & voice, Paul Brody-trumpet, trombone, Lorie Wolf-drums
Musicians on Part II who interpret the voice-voice-melodies
Dan Blacksberg -trombone, Daniel Kahn -voice, Joshua Horowitz -accordion, Brian Katz -guitar, Marilyn Lerner -piano, Frank London -trumpet, Sasha Lurje -voice, Benjy Fox Rosen -bass/voice
Cookie -Segelstein-violin, Eric Stein -Mandolin, Lorie Wolf -drums
Two generations of Toronto Yiddish speakers interviewed: Michael Wex, Shirley Kumove, Jack Newman, Helen Smolkin , Belva Spiel, Jordon Chad, Sarah Katz, Miriam Borden
The sound installation and portraits of those interviewed .
A nice big crowed at the opening ceremony for the sound installation.
Listen to a lively interview and Canada Classic Radio:
Bauhaus Museum Weimar (100 years Bauhaus-Opening April 6th)
Kids did stop time films according to Bauhaus art concepts. Paul Brody composed music for Viola d’amore, Trumpet, Piano, and collected Sounds.
Munich Kammerspiele Saal 600 (Based on archive material from the Nurnberg Trial) -composition
Bauhaus Museum-Bauhaus Festival -Sound Installation Film
- Children create short stop time films based on bauhaus concepts. Brody composed the music. Please have a look and listen!
Canadian Language Museum in Toronto – Sound Installation opening April 4th, 2019 in conjunction with the Ashkenaz Foundation and the : Yiddish Spring : The Music of Yiddish Blessing & Curses
LINK WILL COME SOON!
Akzente Theater Festival, Duisburg- composition based on archive recordings of past performances of Romeo & Juliet. Premier March 16th 2019
University of Virginia Guest Composer/Artist
Example of a lecture at the University of Virginia
Canadian Language Museum in conjunction with the University of Toronto: Paul Brody will have a documentary sound installation that explores how Yiddish embodies a part of secular Jewish culture. The music-based sound installation will include both those who have grown up speaking Yiddish and those who have adopted Yiddish a means of embodying their Jewish identity. More later.
University of Rhode Island
University of Rhode Island Guest Artist. Brody will present perspectives on building an acoustic narrative through his radio and sound installation work. April 12-13th. Hosted by The College of Arts and Sciences Kenneth and Susan Kermes Distinguished Lecture Endowment, The Harrington School of Communication and Media, the Departments of Journalism, and of English, the Program in Film/Media Studies, URI Hillel. and the Department of Music Faculty and Staff.
University of Virginia Artist in Residence. Brody will present his work as a composer and sound installation work artist. In addition, Brody will give an instrumental improvisation workshop based on jazz and klezmer. April 15th-19th. Hosted by the East European, Eurasian, drama, anthropology, and music departments.
For more information on the University of Virginia residency:
Along with talking about the theater and radio projects with Brody. The music students will learn selected pieces from the Paul Brody’s Sadawi Tzadik Records repertoire.
Along with this time in Virginia, Brody will tour with Alan Bern’s Semer Ensemble in North America, and Canada. The group of soloists features four singers, including Daniel Kahn and Klezmatics singer, Lorin Sklamberg.
Piranha Records brought out the CD, Rescued Treasure, in which the pre-war cosmopolitan music of Berlin is brought back to life.
The Guardian writes:
The Semer label, run by a brave Lithuanian bookstore owner called Hirsch Lewin, specialised in recording the remarkable Jewish music scene that existed in Berlin in the 1930s, even after the Nazis came to power – until his shop was smashed, thousands of albums were destroyed, and he was arrested. A successful search for surviving recordings led to the formation of this celebrity band from the US, Germany and eastern Europe, who have revived the music, with new arrangements from pianist Alan Bern and production work from Ben Mandelson. The often dramatic, emotional songs range from klezmer to cabaret and prayer music, and include the pained and thoughtful The World Has Become Small. Originally performed by an actress and cabaret artist who was murdered in Auschwitz, it has echoes of Kurt Weill and is still sadly relevant. An intriguing set – but you need to search online to find the lyrics and history of the songs.