Commissioned by the Jewish Museum of Berlin and led by Alan Bern, the Semer Ensemble has received standing ovations throughout Europe and North America for its powerful, contemporary renderings of music thought destroyed by the Nazis. Starting in 1933, Jewish musicians were forbidden to perform for non-Jewish audiences. The Berlin-based Semer record label responded by feverishly recording Jewish musicians of all genres – cantorial, classical, cabaret, folk – amassing a catalogue of hundreds of 78rpm discs. Until November 9, 1938 (“Kristallnacht”), when the Gestapo destroyed the entire stock. End of story – until the late 1990s, when a passionate amateur record collector, Dr. Rainer Lotz, took it upon himself to try to find surviving discs wherever they might be in the world. Against all odds, after five years he succeeded in finding every single one! These recordings, saved from oblivion, form the repertoire stock of the Semer Ensemble, whose story has been the subject of dozens of print, radio, and TV features. A Semer Ensemble concert combines exquisite musical performances with stories about the lives and fates of the original Jewish musicians from the 1930s, many of whom did not survive the Nazi terror. A program with great current relevance, by turns heart-breaking, astonishing and joyful, and in the end, hopeful and redemptive. A Semer Ensemble visit can also include audience teach-ins and workshops, please inquire for details.

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Alan Bern (USA/D) – artistic director, piano, accordion
Paul Brody (USA/D) – trumpet
Mark Kovnatskiy (RUS/D) – violin
Martin Lillich (D) – double bass
Sasha Lurje (LV/D) – voice
Fabian Schnedler (D) – voice, electric guitar
Daniel Kahn (USA/D) – voice, accordion, mandolin
Lorin Sklamberg (USA) – voice, accordion

12.07.2012 – premiere Berlin


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