Opening eyes and ears to a lost artistic past

Lost music rediscovered as a result of work done by Leeds researchers will make a significant contribution to events over the next few days marking Holocaust Memorial Day.

At high profile events in Leeds and London, members of the Clothworkers Consort of Leeds will perform music by Jewish composers which has been unearthed by the Performing the Jewish Archive research team. 

This international, multidisciplinary AHRC-funded project, led by Dr Stephen Muir from the School of Music, has brought back into the public eye works by Jewish artists forgotten in the maelstrom of Jewish displacement and migration in the first half of the twentieth century.

Some of these lost works have already been seen and heard by audiences at ‘Out of the Shadows’ performance festivals in Leeds, York, Madison in the US, and the Czech Republic.  The performances for Holocaust Memorial Day will bring them centre-stage before a national audience and highlight Leeds’ leading role in the study of the Jewish artistic past.

This Sunday the Clothworkers Consort will sing Yisgadal (Magnified and sanctified) by Baruch Gutmann (1863–1950) at the Leeds Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration in Leeds Town Hall.  

Gutmann’s family was torn apart during the Holocaust. At least three of his seven children were murdered in concentration camps, most likely Auschwitz.  Two others had died before the war, as had his wife Eleonora. Gutmann’s life and career as a synagogue cantor and composer were therefore devastated, even though he managed to survive. Yisgadal  was rediscovered in the archives of the Prague Jewish Community. It was sung in Prague’s Jerusalem synagogue for the first time since the Second World War by the Clothworkers Consort as part of the September 2016 Prague ‘Out of the Shadows’ festival.  This will be only the fourth performance since the war.

On Thursday, the Clothworkers Consort will again be performing music from the archives as part of the UK National Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony, attended by senior politicians and religious leaders.

To hear more of the music brought to light by the Performing the Jewish Archive project, you can listen to four pieces recently performed by the Clothworkers Consort at a concert recorded by BBC Radio 3.  You’ll find them on BBC iplayer (scroll down to the ‘Post concert’ section).  You’ll also be able to hear Dr Muir talking about the project in the Radio 3 programme Music on the Brink of Destruction, to be broadcast on Sunday 22 January at 6.45pm.

Clothworkers_Consort_of_LeedsThe Clothworkers Consort of Leeds

If you’d like a further chance to hear a live performance, come to the Cultural Institute reception in the Parkinson Building on Thursday 2 February, where the project and a Clothworkers Consort performance forms part of the evening’s programme.

Posted in: