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Kadya Trio

Who was Kadya Molodovsky?

by Dr. Diana Matut 

Kadya Molodowsky's life encompassed many languages, countries, works and people and began - relatively ordinarily. Born in 1984 in the shtetl Byaroza (now Belarus), like many girls of her time, she was taught by her grandmother to read Yiddish and recite the prayers. However, her father also introduced her to religious Hebrew scriptures and hired private tutors to give Kadya a Russian, secular education. This broad educational horizon opened up the world to her and laid the foundation for her to be able to complete her own training at a teacher training college. After the war, she spent a few years in Israel (1949-1952), but returned to the USA, where she died in 1975.

For a long time, she was mainly known for the Hebrew translations of her children's poems and many people in Israel were unaware that they were originally written in Yiddish. Only in recent decades has Kadya Molodowsky's work begun to attract greater attention again. New text editions and translations have appeared and she is now considered one of the greatest poets of Yiddish modernism, an important voice of female Jewish emancipation, an advocate for the non-privileged and a witness to Jewish experiences of the twentieth century. 

 

The song cycle "Shtern faln" 

The origins of the song cycle "Shtern faln" go back to the children's song workshop at Yiddish Summer Weimar 2015. Workshop leader Diana Matut suggested to Dr. Alan Bern that he set several Yiddish children's poems by Kadya Molodovsky to music. Bern's songs became the core repertoire for an international girls' choir project in 2016 and 2017 between Germany and Israel, the Kadya Choir. The success of this project led to a feature film (The Young Kadyas) and many other interpretations of the song cycle. The Kadya Trio's interpretation, conducted by the composer himself, is particularly remarkable for its depth, intimacy, virtuosity and sensitivity to the nuances of the Yiddish language.

The Kadya Trio

Sveta Kundish (vocals)

Dr. Alan Bern (composition, direction, piano, accordion)

Mark Kovnatskiy (violin)

Bern, Kundish and Kovnatskiy are internationally acclaimed as artists who combine originality with a profound knowledge of traditional Yiddish music. Kundish is fluent in Russian, Hebrew, German and Yiddish. Her rich cultural and musical background informs her interpretation of the song cycle at every moment. Kovnatskiy, who is at the forefront of a new generation of virtuoso Yiddish violinists, also brings a classical violin background to his original style. Bern, a pioneer in the revival of Yiddish music since the early 1980s and trained as a classical pianist and composer, brings a poetically wistful and joyful sensibility to his settings of Molodovksy's poetry.

 

Dr. Alan Bern (born 1955 in Bloomington, Indiana) is an American composer, pianist, accordionist, music educator, cultural and educational activist based in Berlin since 1987. He is the founder and artistic director of Yiddish Summer Weimar and the Other Music Academy (OMA). His contributions to the research, dissemination and creative renewal of Jewish music, including Brave Old World, The Other Europeans and The Semer Ensemble, are internationally recognized. He is the founder of Present-Time Composition, a musical and pedagogical method that combines improvisational and compositional techniques using cognitive science.

Singer Sveta Kundish is widely considered the finest voice of her generation in Yiddish music today.  She performs throughout Europe, North America and Israel. In addition to the Kadya Trio, she also performs with Voices of Ashkenaz and Trickster Orchestra should be mentioned. She is a regular member and teacher of the Yiddish Summer Weimar. Born in the Ukraine, Kundish emigrated to Israel in her childhood. She graduated from Tel Aviv University and the Prayner Conservatory in Vienna and completed cantorial training at the Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam in 2017. Kundish is currently working as the first female cantor in the history of Jewish communities in Lower Saxony.

Mark Kovnatskiy (Germany, violin) is a highly respected violinist, composer and expert in Yiddish dances. He is at the forefront of a generation that has rescued and developed the sensitive playing style of the old klezmorim for the present day. He began his career as a classical violinist and has devoted himself increasingly to klezmer music since 2003. He has taught at international festivals for more than 19 years and, in addition to his work as a composer and teacher of Jewish dances, is one of the world's leading klezmer violinists, with performances in the USA, Canada, Europe, Israel and Japan. Mark Kovnatskiy is a member of many ensembles and works regularly with leading interpreters of Jewish music as well as with numerous classical orchestras. 

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