The Arty Semite

Monday Music: 'Jewish Voices' in Prayer

By Rebecca Schischa

  • Print
  • Share Share
Courtesy of Tiberii Management

Nina Beilina, a violinist and professor at Mannes College The New School for Music, describes herself as a traditional, if not a religious Jew. It was when she was branded a “Yid” on the streets of Russia that she first felt really Jewish. “I was brought up by my parents to be cosmopolitan, international; then the Stalin era came and anti-Semitism was blooming. I turned to being nationalistic, not international. I was proud to be Jewish,” she said.

Beilina left Russia with her son in 1977. Yet, “as soon as I crossed the border, I was furious because suddenly I became a ‘Russian’!” she exclaimed. “I would say, ‘Why are you calling me Russian? I’m Jewish. I have Jewish blood!’”

On March 28 Beilina will be presenting a concert of “Jewish Voices” at Manhattan’s Congregation Ansche Chesed, featuring Bachanalia, a group of 16 musicians she leads, and the world premiere of “The Breath of All Life — Meditations on two Jewish Prayers,” a composition by Cantor Natasha Hirschhorn.

“‘Jewish Voices’ was my dream; we’ve been thinking about doing a Jewish program for over a year. It was a long process,” said Beilina, whose collaboration — she avoids the word “orchestra” as Bachanalia musicians perform without a conductor — is now in its 24th season. The program will also include a Bach concerto — a must for every Bachanalia performance; Arnold Schoenberg’s 1947 composition “A Survivor from Warsaw”; Shostakovich’s 1949 cycle “From Jewish Folk Poetry”; and Ernest Bloch’s 1923 “Nigun” from “Baal Shem Suite: Three Pictures of Chassidic Life.”

“A Survivor from Warsaw,” Schoenberg’s composition based on the diary of a survivor, is a “very complicated piece” Beilina said, incorporating a narrator (for this concert it is Beilina’s son, Emil Chudnovsky, who is also a musician), an orchestra and a singer. While the English and German narration goes on, the orchestra also describes the story, with the last few phrases sung in Hebrew. “Three languages in eight minutes!” Beilina said.

Hirschhorn’s “Meditation,” a composition for string orchestra and cello, is based on two prayers, “The Breath of All Life” (“Nishmat Kol Chay”) and “Praise” (“Hal’lu”). “I was lucky to find Hazan Natasha. I’m in love with this piece,” Beilina said. “It’s very melodic, a deep thought. You really have to meditate as you listen.”

While “Jewish Voices” is taking place at a synagogue, Beilina, who has performed in many different venues around the world, is quick to say that “I don’t mind where I play; I can play in a synagogue or a church. What I care about is that people will listen to the music, be in touch with the music.”

“You don’t just play music,” she added. “You have to tell the audience something about human life.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Rebecca Schischa, Nina Beilina, Natasha Hirschhorn, Classical Music, Bachanalia, Music

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.