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October 25, 2004

Jewish Studies Program to celebrate anniversary with concert featuring music of Kurt Weill

By Scott Rappaport

The UCSC Jewish Studies Program will present a concert titled “The Music of Kurt Weill: From Berlin to New York,” on Sunday, November 7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Music Center Recital Hall.

Music Department voice lecturer Patrice Maginnis will sing selections from Kurt Weill’s Broadway songbook as part of the Jewish Studies anniversary concert on Nov. 7 at the Music Center Recital Hall. Photo courtesy of UCSC music department

The evening of music will feature UCSC voice lecturer Patrice Maginnis singing selections from Weill’s Broadway songbook. There will also be a performance of Weill’s Violin Concerto by soloist Bettina Mussumeli and the New Music Ensemble of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, conducted by UCSC music professor Nicole Paiement. Admission is free and open to the public.

“The concert is to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Jews in North America--big exhibits are being planned across the country in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco,” said Murray Baumgarten, professor of English and comparative literature and director of the campus’s Jewish Studies Program. “We are also celebrating the fifth year of the Jewish studies minor at UCSC.”

Baumgarten noted that over the past 350 years, Jews have spearheaded new musical genres, embracing Broadway theater, swing, big band, jazz, and classical music. “Many of the most famous composers of American songs were Jewish, such as Irving Berlin and the Gershwin brothers,” said Baumgarten.

A number of avant-garde American artists were also Jewish immigrants to the United States who left Europe as a result of the Nazi regime. Kurt Weill was one of those immigrants and is best known for works such as The Threepenny Opera and Mahagonny, as well as American musicals such as Lady in the Dark and One Touch of Venus.

“During the last 350 years, Jews have made important contributions to American culture and society,” Baumgarten noted. “This concert is a chance to celebrate how immigrants and refugees have contributed to Jewish life...and to American life.”

A panel discussion will take place prior to the concert, beginning at 7 p.m. Titled “Kurt Weill and the American Songbook,” it will feature Baumgarten and Francesco Spagnolo, a guest lecturer in music and Jewish studies at UCSC this winter and spring. Spagnolo holds a doctorate in music from the University of Milan and recently completed his Ph.D. in Jewish music at Hebrew University in Jersusalem.

For more information, contact: Professor Murray Baumgarten, director of the Jewish Studies Program, (831) 459-2566; Professor Nicole Paiement, UCSC Music Department, (831) 459-2164; or the Jewish Studies Program Office, (831) 459-1225.

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