1335 South Michigan Ave
This event is free and open to the public. To reserve your seat please register.
A reception will follow the concert.
“Sing unto the Lord a new song / Shiru l’Adonai shir chadash”! From Antiquity to the twenty-first century, from centuries of diaspora to the moments of return, from tragedy to triumph, the call for “New Song” has symbolized both the struggle and the celebration of Jewish history. Appearing throughout the Hebrew Bible, that call charts the path of history and raises voices in prayer. “New Song” sounds the distinctiveness of lyric in the Jewish languages that open from the classical sonorities of Hebrew to the critical encounter signified by Jewish languages from the Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Mizrahi diasporas. “New Song” spreads across the soundscapes of survival and renewal. In their Pianoforte program on May 7th, the eight-member New Budapest Orpheum Society celebrates “New Song” in its expansive variety. The program weaves folk and popular music together, while following a path to some of the great art-song works of the modern era. The University of Chicago-based cabaret ensemble captures the spirit of “New Song” in its most intimate settings – the home, the shtetl, the moments of remembrance and redemption – and it searches for Jewish experience on the stages of history – from cabaret to concert stage to concentration camp. The program for “Shir chadash” includes songs by Mordechai Gebirtig, Felix Prokeš, Jac Weinstein, František Kovanic and other composers voicing resistance to the Holocaust. Singers Julia Bentley and Stewart Figa lead the audience through post-War repertories for the stage, in works by Benzion Witler, Zygmunt Konieczny, and the NBOS’s own music director, Ilya Levinson. The journey through “New Song” in six languages and voices of diaspora culminates with a set of remarkable – and virtually unknown – songs by the French Sephardic composer, Darius Milhaud. “New Song” takes the Pianoforte audience on a journey it will not forget.
The New Budapest Orpheum Society is an Ensemble-in-Residence in the Humanities Division at the University of Chicago. Its eight members perform locally in Chicago synagogues, universities, and cultural institutions, and the ensemble tours widely, performing at Symphony Space and the Café Sabarsky in New York City, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, and the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum. The ensemble draws upon a wide range of repertories, many forgotten, others preserved in European archives, all poignantly bearing witness to the great tradition of Jewish cabaret. In 2011, Artistic Director, Phil Bohlman, and the NBOS were the recipients of the Noah Greenwood Award for Historical Performance from the American Musicological Society. The ensemble has released three CDs: Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano (Cedille Records 2002) and Jewish Cabaret in Exile (Cedille Records 2009), and Moments musicaux of Jewish Music (University of Chicago Press 2008). The New Budapesters are currently preparing two recording projects, one devoted to film music from the Golden Age of Jewish film, the other to cabaret, melodrama, and opera created in concentration camps during the Holocaust. The New Budapest Orpheum Society members are: Julia Bentley (mezzo soprano), Philip V. Bohlman (artistic director), Stewart Figa (baritone), Danny Howard (percussion), Iordanka Kissiova (violin), Ilya Levinson (music director and piano), Jim Cox (double bass), and Don Stille (accordion).