AOP Helping Hands present
THE YIDDISH FOLKSONG PROJECT
A worldwide campaign of education on (and dissemination of) a rich, yet endangered piece of musical culture
Thanks for visiting the American Opera Projects’ Helping Hands site for my Yiddish Folksong Project. I’m thrilled to take this opportunity to tell you a bit more about this great project.
First, let me share with you a brief overview.
Through the centuries, Jewish folk songs in the Yiddish language have been passed on from parent (or grandparent) to child, or through the Jewish congregational community, or in occasional performance within the small circle of traditional Jews, from generation to generation. However, as those people for whom Yiddish was the ‘mame-lozhn’ (the ‘mother tongue’) pass away, the memory of the Yiddish folk song gradually fades as well, and so fades an important part of the chronicle of a people. Sadly, many of these songs are no longer heard at all.
A few years ago, I was the winner of a vocal competition in New York City. At the conclusion of the award presentation, the competition committee president handed me an LP recording and two cassette recordings. These were out-of-print recordings of 42 Yiddish songs in the finely crafted, evocative — but nonetheless ‘folksy’ — classical arrangements by eminent conductor-composer-arranger Robert De Cormier. After listening to them back at home (in a state of utter ecstasy), I became convinced that De Cormier’s superb arrangements constituted the rescue of an entire body of folksong literature from obscurity. I knew, at that moment, that these songs — in these arrangements — must be heard, and that they must never be forgotten.
My search for Robert De Cormier resulted in a meeting, in which he agreed to grant me exclusive performance and publication rights to his arrangements. In turn, John and I entered into an agreement with him to 1) perform the songs as widely as possible, 2) undertake a new recording of the songs, and 3) be responsible for the first-ever publication of his arrangements.
I am convinced that the publication of these arrangements will assure that trained singers will take these songs into their repertoires; in this way, the songs — and this piece of cultural history — will endure throughout the ages.
Another important aspect of the project is its educational impact, which will manifest itself in performances, lectures, and workshops at schools, universities, and various other institutions around the world. The interest has been strong, and we have already received a considerable number of invitations to perform and lecture in the U.S. and the UK.
THE GOOD NEWS
After years of thought and planning, we recently got some wonderful news: The Endeavor Foundation (formerly Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation) of New York has awarded us a sizeable grant to help defray the cost of producing this project throughout the 2014/15 season.
Naturally, we feel ourselves immensely fortunate to have Endeavor’s support. We now have a basis for realizing the project’s mission. However, even with that support, the project is costly (around $150k), and this is why I am reaching out to you.
You can help me make this unique and very important project a reality by making a (tax-deductible) contribution to The Yiddish Folksong Project fund (administered by American Opera Projects). Whether it’s $5 or $5,000 (or anywhere in between), you can take great satisfaction in knowing that you have played an important part in introducing the world to a very important piece of cultural history.
I hope you’ll take the opportunity to view the beautifully produced (9-minute) mini-documentary on the project (see video clip at top of page). Should you be interested, I’m including also a more extensive overview of the project (see the link below) in a PDF document.
As always, you have my greatest affection and, for your contribution to this great project, my abiding gratitude.
As it is said in Yiddish, “Zay gezundt!” (Be well!)
Link to more detailed information on the project:
PLEASE JOIN US IN FURTHERING "THE YIDDISH FOLKSONG PROJECT"
American Opera Projects is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to identify, develop, and present new, innovative works of music theater by emerging and established artists. Donations are tax-deductible.