Milken Fund for American Jewish Music Launches 2018-19 Program Year

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The Lowell Milken Fund for American Jewish Music presents more than a dozen performances this academic year. Featuring special guest artists, world-class student performers and leading scholars in the field, the menu of events offer audiences the opportunity to explore how Jewish music reflects the American Jewish experience over time and across the varied cultural influences which have shaped American Jewish life.

The programs are presented in a variety of performance modalities. Among the events are a scholarly talk called “Restoring the Synagogue Soundtrack” on May 13, featuring Professor Judah Cohen of Indiana University and accompanied by UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music student vocalists; “UClezLA,” a day of workshops led by renowned musicians highlighting the music, poetry and dance of Jewish folk music, culminating with a Klezmer dance party on January 13; and, an evening of musical theater painting an historical picture of the American cantorate, directed by Tony-nominated Eleanor Reissa, on February 23.

Additionally, Jewish music is experienced through different cultural lenses, with music of new immigrants to America as central to this musical journey. A performance on November 18 highlights the music of the European exiled composers of early Hollywood, including Arnold Schoenberg, Ernst Toch, Erich Korngold, Andre Previn, and others. The works of Walter Kaufmann, a Czech composer whose music was strongly influenced by his years of exile in India before coming to America, is presented by the Grammy-nominated ARC Ensemble on February 27. And, the music of Sephardic Jewry and how it enriched the Los Angeles Jewish music scene will be shared on February 26 in a recital featuring doctoral candidate Simone Salmon.

All programs are free and open to the public. For more details and a complete list of events, download the Year at a Glance Events Calendar, and keep an eye on the Milken Fund’s Facebook page.

Nov. 18: Emigres and Exiles in Hollywood will feature the music of the early Hollywood composers Schoenberg, Toch, Korngold, Previn and others who created the film score style we hear today, and will be performed by the Ensemble for These Times.

Dec. 9: An event for the whole family, this live reading of the award-winning fairy tale Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins,” will be accompanied by Klezmer music performed by the UCLA Klezmer Ensemble and songs performed by UCLA’s JewkBox acapella group.

Jan. 12: Screening of Emmy award-winning documentary “In the Fiddler’s House,” telling the story of Itzhak Perlman’s encounter with world-class Klezmer musicians.

Jan. 13: “UClezLA” will feature a day of workshops taught by world-renowned Klezmer musicians Hankus Netsky, Pete Rushefsky, Michael Alpert, Ilene Stahl and Lorin Sklamberg. The Yiddish songs and poetry of Klezmer music will be explored by UCLA Professor Miri Koral, and the history of Klezmer will be taught by Milken Fund Director and UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Professor Mark Kligman. The day ends with a Klezmer dance party.

Feb. 3: In “Shir Chadash (New Song) Series,” UCLA Ph.D. candidate Michel Klein will curate a performance of Jewish concert works all composed in the last few decades.

Feb. 10: In this inaugural collaboration with the Academy for Jewish Religion, CA, “Bible Women” is a concert which will give voice to the women of the Bible, telling their classic stories through new lenses. It will feature the alumni of both UCLA and AJRCA. Lyrics and music by Tony-nominated composer Elizabeth Swados. A pre-concert talk will explore the various ways women are depicted in the Bible.

Feb. 23: “On the Cantors Couch” is a one-man show which paints a picture of 1950’s Borough Park, when Jews would flock to synagogue to hear the golden voices of cantors as if it were a concert hall. It will feature Cantor Mendelson and his collaborator and accompanist, Cantor Jonathan Comisar. Directed by Tony-nominated Eleanor Reissa.

Feb. 26: “ucLADINO: Simone Salmon Lecture Recital” will celebrate the rich historical roots of Sephardic music and culture in Los Angeles, through the presentation and performance of Simone Salmon, a graduate student in ethnomusicology.

Feb. 27: From India to Indianais a concert performed by the Grammy-nominated ARC Ensemble focusing on the works of Czech composer, Walter Kaufmann, and his unique fusion of Indian and Western art music. There will be a pre-concert program exploring Indian music.

Apr. 14: In “Klezmer Xylophone: an Unconventional Love Story,” Milken Fund’s own Associate Director Lorry Black will perform a whole array of high-energy Klezmer music.

May 13: The scholar Judah Cohen, an Associate Professor of Musicology and the Lou and Sybil Mervis Professor of Jewish Culture at Indiana University, will tell the story of the innovations and evolutions in Jewish musical developments in 19th Century America in his talk Restoring the Synagogue Soundtrack. UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music vocalists will perform select historical pieces as part of the lecture.

May 19: In collaboration with Opera UCLA, the Milken Fund co-sponsors Lost Childhood,” a two-act opera that has a Jewish Holocaust survivor and post-war German confront their own difficult pasts. Based on a memoir of the same name, the music was composed by Janice Hamer and libretto written by Mary Azreal. A pre-performance program on music and the Holocaust will be sponsored by the Milken Fund.