St. Petersburg, Russia, 1908. Led by the Russian Jewish composer and folklorist Joel Engel, a group of Jewish musicians establishes the St. Petersburg Society of Jewish Folk Music. Its members, including composers such as Joseph Achron, Mikhail Gnesin, Alexander Krejn, Moshe Milner, Solomon Rosowsky, Lazare Saminsky, create masterpieces of new Jewish art music, inspired and informed by traditional Yiddish instrumental (klezmer) and vocal music collected on ethnographic expeditions.
Without Engel’s unwavering belief in the depth, beauty and aesthetic fertility of Yiddish traditional music, this outburst of musical creativity would have been impossible. Already the first concert of Engel’s works based on Yiddish folk song profoundly affected his contemporaries, inspiring a movement that would came to be known as the New Jewish School.
A little over 100 years later, six world-class musicians from Germany, Russia and Switzerland with roots in both classical and traditional Yiddish music have come together to create a unique, new ensemble. Named in honor of the patriarch of the New Jewish School, The Engel Ensemble is dedicated to interpreting 20th century Jewish art music in the context of traditional Yiddish music, creating a truly new sound that bridges two worlds.
Alan Bern – piano, accordion (USA/GER)
Ilya Gindin – clarinet (RUS)
Mark Kovnatskiy – violin (RUS/GER)
Igor Mishurisman – violin (UA/GER)
Anastasia Mishurisman – viola (UA/GER)
Hitomi Niikura – cello (JP/CH)