Music of Jewish soul featured in concert

Heifetz, Classical Band to perform at Annapolis' Kneseth Israel Synagogue

July 25, 2002|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Based at St. John's College for the previous four summers, Daniel Heifetz and his International Music Institute brought excitement and charisma - along with classical music - to downtown Annapolis.

Having outgrown the available space at St. John's, Heifetz moved the Music Institute this summer to the more spacious quarters of Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H.

But Heifetz' many local fans will be pleased to hear that the violinist will return to Annapolis with his Classical Band and his daughter soprano Elena Heifetz to present one concert, on Aug. 25.

The concert, titled "Voice of a People: The Jewish Soul," will be presented at 3 p.m. at Kneseth Israel Synagogue at Spa Road and Hilltop Lane in Annapolis.

Sponsored by the 10 member organizations of the United Jewish Council of Anne Arundel County in conjunction with the Heifetz International Music Institute, the concert is open to everyone and was made possible largely through the efforts of Kneseth Israel congregant, volunteer and music lover Anna E. Greenberg.

"When I proposed this concert to the Jewish Council, I recalled this is what we're about - presenting quality programming to be shared by the community," Greenberg said recently.

"The council's mission is to reach out to the larger community to foster cooperation and understanding," she said. "What better way to involve the whole community than through the universal language of music?"

Noting that he has presented this concert around the world with the Classical Band, Heifetz stresses that "this is a concert for everyone and can be related to by any people.

"It's very important to me that there are non-Jewish composers in this program," he said in a telephone interview.

"Max Bruch, who wrote the `Kol Nidrei,' is not Jewish, and Dmitri Shostakovich, who wrote the `Piano, Violin and Cello Trio' that expresses the pain of the Holocaust, was not Jewish.

"The concept is not to play a Jewish program but to take the audience on a musical journey of the American Jewish experience - religious, ethnic and cultural," he explained.

Heifetz said the program is framed by "Invocation," specially written for him by Meira Warshauer.

"The music evokes the old country, employing classical, cantorial and Yiddish music, and it expresses the Jewish need to study, it tells of persecution that forced the Jewish violinist to leave his home with his violin strapped on his back, becoming a strong part of the Jewish musical tradition," Heifetz said.

"I play and illustrate not only how the American Jew looks back to the old country but also his/her need for assimilation in a new world," he said. "I bring in the effect of the Holocaust on me as an artist and son of a survivor."

For the Holocaust section, Heifetz uses the music of Shostakovich, a musician he says understood and conveyed the suffering of the Holocaust.

"The section `Dances of Atonement' is not a misnomer, but is movement to the song of a high priest. The last portion of the concert demonstrates how all these influences have contributed to the creation of our country's musical voice," he said.

"This is illustrated by the fact that one of the greatest and most beloved American composers of the 20th century was Jewish - George Gershwin, whose Porgy and Bess we end with," Heifetz said.

Tickets may be ordered before Aug. 16 at the reduced price of $18 for adults and $9 for children. Afterward and at the door, tickets are $22 for adults, $11 for children.

The admission price includes refreshments after the concert, with the opportunity to meet the musicians.

For reservations, send a check payable to UJC-AAC to: UJC-AAC, 1737 Point No Point Drive, Annapolis, MD 21401.

For information and details call Greenberg at 410-263-6646 or check the organization Web site at www.ujc-aac.org.

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