By popular demand, Germany’s Semer Ensemble returns to Toronto following their show-stopping appearance at the 2016 Ashkenaz Festival. This “supergroup” brings back to life the eclectic Jewish music captured on historic recordings made in Berlin between 1933-1938 by Hirsh Lewin on his Semer Records label.
This short-lived record label served as a “musical Noah’s Ark” at a time when Jewish artists were banned by the Nazis from participation in the mainstream music industry. In five short years, Lewin recorded a vast array of artists and styles, including Yiddish folk and theatre songs, Berlin Cabaret, Russian and Ukrainian folk songs, operatic arias, and cantorial music. This precious musical time capsule of a world facing annihilation was thought lost for decades following the destruction of Lewin’s store and all his master recordings on Kristallnacht, on November 9, 1938. But 60 years later, ethnomusicologist Rainer Lots embarked on a decade-long, global mission to track down vinyl copies of the original discs.
Remarkably, he succeeded in re-assembling almost the entire catalog.Now, joined by an all-star cast, New Jewish Music pioneer Alan Bern (Brave Old World, Other Europeans) directs a live concert program based on these recordings. The Semer Ensemble creates fresh interpretations and provocative, contemporary arrangements of repertoire from the original Semer Records catalog. This moving concert experience re-creates a golden age of Jewish music, opening a time tunnel between pre-war Berlin and today’s vibrant Jewish Music scene.
Also featuring Lorin Sklamberg, Sasha Lurje, Daniel Kahn, Fabian Shnedler, Paul Brody, Mark Kovnatsky, Martin Lilich.Presented in association with Holocaust Education Week.
Generously sponsored by David Green, Daphne Wagner, Lita and Mikey Green; Moses, Libby and Sam Znaimer; Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation; Effi Gold and Molly Shainfarber; Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto; Ruth Ekstein & Alan Lechem and Stella & Peter Ekstein, with love and in honour of their mother, Anita Ekstein for her extraordinary contribution to Holocaust education; Helen Stollar, in memory of all the children killed in the Holocaust.