Making Sacred All the Whispers of the World--Jewish Cabaret at the Krannert Center

Thursday, March 29th, 2018
Philip V. Bohlman

Stage 5

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

500 S. Goodwin, Urbana

Event Description


A performance by The New Budapest Orpheum Society

The eight-member New Budapest Orpheum Society re-sounds the songs of struggle, survival, and sacrifice from the tragic history of twentieth-century Jewish modernity. Repertories unearthed from concentration camps and the ghettos of World War II, set in counterpoint to the popular and political songs from cabaret stage and Jewish cinema, together commemorate and celebrate one of the most powerful moments of modern music history. Echoes from worlds lost to the Holocaust resonate with new life in these new arrangements. The sonic legacies of lives lost are realized with the extraordinary power and beauty of Jewish cabaret. During the course of the evening audiences will journey through the Yiddish songs created by Mordechai Gebirtig for the Cracow Ghetto and bear witness to the message of songs from the Golden Age of Yiddish film. Milestones of metaphor and allegory give meaning to a historical path that passes through cities as disparate as Carpathian shtetls and the cosmopolitan cities of the Duchess of Chicago. Repertories gathered through the research of the ensemble members—works by Viktor Ullmann and Leo Strauss from the concentration camp at Theresienstadt/Terezín, Hebrew songs circulating on postcards between Berlin and Jerusalem and composers such as Kurt Weill and Stephan Wolpe, newly-composed Russian songs by Ilya Levinson—will be experienced in all their staggering beauty. Members of the NBOS pay homage to the past, present, and future, seeking the sacred within the whispers still audible for us in the twenty-first century when we listen.

A lecture by NBOS Artistic Director Philip V. Bohlman will precede the performance at 4:00 pm

The New Budapeset Orpheum Society is an Ensemble-in-Residence in the Humanities Division at the University of Chicago. This group will present an extensive program representing the experience of many places, including songs about life and love in Cracow, Yiddish songs between Eastern and Western Europe, resistance in the ghetto, sojourners in the struggle against the Nazi regime, settings of Hebrew folk songs by Darius Milhaud, songs by Kurt Eisler and by Arnold Schoenberg, and songs by Viktor Ullmann.

A reception follows at the Bread Company, 706 S. Goodwin, Urbana.

Philip V. Bohlman

University of Chicago, New Budapest Orpheum Society Artistic Director