Saturday, October 5, 2013

Orchestra Jacobsplatz Munich comes to town!


Photo: Erol Gurian – Orchestra Jakobsplatz
GetClassical mentioned the up-and-coming Orchestra in an article following Munich’s Classical: Next 2012.
This October, Orchestra Jacobsplatz Munich, an international group of musicians with a unique focus on Jewish heritage, comes to New York.
The ensemble consists of young professional musicians from over 20 countries who have a strong emphasis on playing renowned, as well as rarely performed works by Jewish composers, in addition to other works from the 20th and 21st centuries. Daniel Grossmann, the orchestra’s founding director and conductor, grew up and lives in Germany, part of the second generation of Jews born after World War II.  He explains the need to find a new relationship to one’s Jewish heritage and artistic identity as a German Jew in this generation: “I aim to present Jewish Music in a current context, not in its usual depiction as something just related to the Holocaust, or categorized as ‘Entartete Kunst’,”explains artistic director Grossmann, who founded the orchestra in 2005.

Since 2009, Grossmann, who very slightly resembles a young Gustav Mahler, has looked to broaden the reach of the orchestra beyond its local German boundaries.
Internationally, there is relatively little known about the newfangled cultural Jewish life and its emergent influx within today’s German communities. After great waves of Russian Jewish Immigration in the 90s, as well as the construction of new synagogues and new Jewish community centers in Germany, like the one in Munich from which the orchestra derives its name, Germany’s young generation became aware of a Jewish culture that needs to be both remembered and redefined.
“We commission new works of Jewish contemporary composers on a regular basis,” says Grossmann in an interview leading up to the orchestra’s US/Canada tour this fall. Grossmann will also offer works written for different instrumental constellations for his chamber orchestra.  “We do intend to create a new Jewish Zeitgeist, which focuses on its connection to our present time, not solely on the past’s memorial characteristics. All musicians, that are not at all necessarily Jewish themselves, come from totally different backgrounds and bring their own subtle influences and imagination to the music, which translates into a broad cultural exchange.”
Besides a high standard of musicianship, there is a special requirement for the members of the orchestra, which entails sensitivity towards the issue at hand: the comprehension of Jewish identity in its cultural dimension today. “Take for example the Partita of Gideon Klein, a Jewish composer who wrote this work in a concentration camp during Nazi-times, his last work before he died in the KZ’s gas-chambers,” says Grossman. “The musicians who play in our orchestra have to be able to grasp the affecting aspects of such music, in order to encourage a mutual communication and exploration on different emotional levels. Through such profound musical journeys, the specifically Jewish aspect has the potential to amplify the general, human agenda, which is what ultimately connects our generation – and our orchestra on an expressive level.”
On Monday, October 21nd at 8 pm the orchestra will make its New York debut at Peter Norton Symphony Space with a program featuring music by Mendelssohn, Klein, Mahler, and Schulhoff.  The performance will include a pre-concert lecture by NYU Professor Michael Beckerman.  Tickets are available at Symphony Space’s website.
For more dates for its North American tour and general information about Orchestra Jacobsplatz Munich, visit the orchestra’s website.

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