Semer Ensemble – Rescued Treasure
Special Preview Concert
presented in cooperation with the Kunstfest Weimar
Jun 26 Sun 8:30 p.m. @e.werk
Admission: 19.50 € / 14.50 €
>> Tickets online

In 1930s Berlin, Hirsch Lewin’s Semer label was the last refuge for Jewish musicians who were otherwise forbidden to perform or record. The label made hundreds of recordings of Jewish classical, popular, folk, cabaret and cantorial musicians. On November 9, 1938, the Gestapo destroyed the Semer store and and its stock, and this last, unlikely echo of Weimar Republic culture was silenced.

For 60 years, the Semer recordings were considered forever lost to history, until discographer Rainer Lotz in the 1990s heroically located and retrieved them from all around the world. In 2012, the Berlin Jewish Museum asked Yiddish Summer Director Alan Bern to create an ensemble to perform music of the Semer label. The resulting Semer Ensemble features leading lights of New Jewish Music from several generations and several nationalities, centered in Berlin and New York.

Many of the original Semer artists perished in the war. But when we listen to their voices we meet people still in the middle of life. They sing about love, jealousy, war, justice, the Torah, settling Palestine, socialism, Zionism, dancing girls, affairs and player pianos. They sing in Yiddish, Hebrew, German, Polish and Russian. They fight, laugh, boast, seduce, cry, threaten, provoke, scorn and inspire.

“Rescued Treasure” represents a small selection of their artistic output, freely interpreted for today. The Semer Ensemble CD of the same name was recorded live in concert in November 2015 at the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin.

Semer Ensemble
Alan Bern (USA/Berlin) –  director, piano, accordion
Paul Brody (USA/Berlin) – trumpet
Mark Kovnatskiy (Moskau/Hamburg) – violin
Martin Lillich (Berlin) – contrabass
Sasha Lurje (Riga/Berlin) – vocals
Fabian Schnedler (Berlin) – vocals, E-guitar
Lorin Sklamberg (New York) – vocals, accordion