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Friday, March 25, 2011

Sabbath music video

The mystery of the Jewish music from Russia has been solved for me in great detail by Masha M.
The group in the video is the Choir of Mikhail Turetsky (in Russian Хор Турецкого) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choir_of_Michael_Turetsky

The group was formed in 1989 under the auspices of Moscow Central Synagogue. The idea was to recreate/revive the Jewish singing tradition both liturgical and popular (Yiddish singing tradition. The original financing came by way of the Joint Distribution Committee and Turetsky said in interviews that they more or less envisaged this as a fundraising tool for attracting donors for purposes of financing projects in Russia and elswhere and had no idea what this could amount to artistically.

I doubt that they are still affiliated with the Synagogue - they are too commercially oriented. They tour a lot, I know that they were in Germany last year from someone who went to a concert there. In Europe & the States as well as in Israel, they play mostly to emigree audiences who receive them quite well. They played in Boston (where I am, in Brookline, to be precise) but I have not actually heard them live.
In Russia they are well known too. The video you posted is from a concert in Nov. 2010 entitled "20 Years - 10 Voices" which was held, according to uploader's comments in the Kremlin State Palace in Moscow which is a large modern building ("concrete and glass", consequently ugly as sin and clashes with the lovely arcitectural ensemble of the Kremlin) erected under Khrushchev within the Kremlin walls in the early 60s and then known as the "Kremlin Palace of Congresses"; it was used for Communist Party congresses where they would rubber stamp the 5-year plans... when not used for that it was used for Bolshoi opera performaces or ballet... The fact that they are playing there, are able to sell a hall if this size attests to their popularity - the state has no interest in subsidizing them.

Turetsky himself (or his family) is from Belarus (formerly Belorussia), he goes under his mother's last name to continue the name because all of her family perished in the Shoah (his father's last name is Epshtein - I got that from the Russian wiki article, like the bit about the financing by Joint).

If you want more info, just let me know.
Masha was also kind enough to send me some more videos of the group. Let's go to the videotape.

Shabbat Shalom everyone.

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At 10:33 PM, Blogger Eric-Odessit said...

The reason why Turetsky uses his mother's last name is probably much more prosaic than preserving the family name of the relatives perished in the Holocaust. He probably went to college when the old Soviet Union was still around. "Turetsky" is much less obviously Jewish than Epshtein. So, he was simply adjusting to life under anti-Semitic Soviet government. But those who are not familiar with the life in the Soviet Union would not understand that, so he came up with an explanation more plausible to the Western audiences.


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