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Concerts of the Leipziger Synagogalchor – a new addition to musiconn.performance

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      Sabine Koch

      The portal musiconn.performance now allows interesting insights into late twentieth-century synagogue worship and choral singing, thanks to integrating a new data source: The archive of the Leipziger Synagogalchor, which covers almost six decades, has inspired more than 700 new concert datasets – and leaves scope for many more to come.

      The Leipziger Synagogalchor can look back on almost six decades of eventful history. The ensemble was founded in 1962 by the Jewish cantor Werner Sander (1902-1972) with the aim to revive the choral music of the tradition of liberal synagogues, which after the Shoah had only been handed down in a few sources. All at once, Sander began to arrange Yiddish and Hebrew songs for mixed voices. The amateur choir, which from the beginning consisted of non-Jewish singers and performed under the auspices of the Association of Jewish Communities in the GDR, gained a firm place in the choral landscapes of both German political systems. With its ambassadorial function and its special repertoire, it was never commonplace. In the 40 years following Sander’s death, the new director of the choir, tenor Helmut Klotz, turned the ensemble into a nationally and internationally renowned concert choir. On the occasion of the ensemble’s 50th birthday in 2012, Ludwig Böhme took over artistic directorship and once more expanded the choir’s repertoire, which consists of synagogue music from the Renaissance to the modern age and of an increasing number of arrangements of Yiddish songs created especially for the ensemble. In 2017, the choir received the Obermayer German Jewish History Award. Three years later, the ensemble’s long-standing work for the “Revitalisation of Synagogue Choral Music of the 19th and 20th centuries of Eastern Europe” was rewarded with an entry in the German Register of Good Safeguarding Practices as a part of the Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

      The Leipzig ensemble has now made the best of its corona-related compulsory break and analysed all available materials from their archive for musiconn.performance. Their archive contains concert programmes, posters, announcements, advertisements, invitations and reviews dating from 1963 to 2020, documenting more than 700 individual performances. The recorded data – locations, occasions, participants, concert organisers, music titles, and composers – illustrate the huge spectrum of the choir’s Jewish repertoire and abundant performances at home and abroad, at commemorative and festive events, in worship services, and on many other occasions. They allow valuable insights into how Jewish music has been cultivated in the GDR and in Germany since 1990. How often was Louis Lewandowski’s ‘Ma tovu’ performed? Which compositions by Samuel Lampel did the choir present to its audiences? Which soloists and orchestras did perform with the choir? When and where did the ensemble appear in concert in Poland or Israel? What role does the choir play in the Culture of Remembrance in the GDR and in Germany? Such and many other issues can now be explored in much detail, thanks to the choir’s recent project collaboration with musiconn.performance.

      Not all aspects of the choir’s repertoire and performances have been sufficiently covered yet, however. Therefore, the Leipziger Synagogalchor wants to ask the public, as well as concert organisers, archives and former members for help: Anyone who has material related to the choir’s history is welcome to contact in order to extend its digital archive further.

      Launched in March 2020 as a programme of the German Specialised Information Service for Musicology and hosted by the Saxon State and University Library (SLUB) Dresden, the portal musiconn.performance [] allows multi-faceted searches for musical performances from the time of their emergence to the present day, based on research data and results provided by diverse project partners. Institutions and ensembles, whose performances can be traced in the portal to date include the Dresden State Opera, the Frankfurter Museumsgesellschaft, the Albert-Lortzing-Gesellschaft, the Dresden Philharmonic, the Dresden Kreuzchor, and the Thomanerchor Leipzig. Data related to early Verdi reception and performances of ballet music in 17th- and 18th-century Stuttgart will follow shortly.

      • This topic was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by Sabine Koch.
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