The Dybbuk Comes Dancing Into MOR's Fall Concert

World Premiere of New Dance Commission from Choreographer Donald Byrd Joins Chamber Works by Shostakovich, Gnessin, Krein

SEATTLE, WA—September 22, 2010—Music of Remembrance opens its thirteenth season with its fall concert The Dybbuk on Monday, November 8, 2010, at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall, and features the world premiere of a new dance commission from choreographer Donald Byrd.  Byrd, artistic director of Spectrum Dance Theater, has been hailed as “the most unconventional provocateur and dance maker/thinker of our times” by Broadway World.

Byrd’s new dance, performed by members of Spectrum Dance Theater, is set to J. Engel’s The Dybbuk Suite, based on Engel’s incidental music written for the iconic play.  This is Byrd’s second dance commission for MOR; his first, set to Franz Schreker’s The Wind, had its premiere in May 2009.

Artistic Director Mina Miller explains how this 1920s work, rooted in Jewish folklore, relates to the musical legacy of the Holocaust that MOR commemorates: “Folklore offers us poignant reminders of what also died with the individual lives the Nazis sought to extinguish—thriving Eastern European cultures. The Dybbuk is a richly layered morality tale, about tensions between spiritual and material realms that resonate today.”

Ansky wrote The Dybbuk at a time when nascent forces would soon transform the world in ways that nobody then could imagine. An ethnographer and playwright who led expeditions in search of Jewish folklore in the shtetls of the Pale of Settlement, Ansky had been fascinated by the legend of the dybbuk—an often-malign spirit of a deceased person that inhabits and takes control of somebody still living. His play takes place on a wedding day, when the bride-to-be is possessed by the soul of a brilliant Talmudic scholar who died of unrequited love for her.

His collaborator Joel Engel created incidental music for The Dybbuk, which would become a cornerstone of Yiddish theater in Europe and America. The play’s success helped launch a famous Hebrew theater company in the young Soviet Union, where an emerging movement of Jewish self-expression would be buffeted for decades by the shifting winds of Soviet ideology and politics.

The entire fall concert program is an exploration of Russian-Jewish identity and experience.  Acclaimed pianist Craig Sheppard will perform Mikhail Gnessin’s Piano Trio. Written in 1943, as news of the Jewish mass-murders reached the Soviet Union, the work is dedicated “to the memory of our lost children.” Russian composer Alexander Krein, leader of a Jewish national school, combines sacred and secular music in Hebrew Sketches.

Dmitri Shostakovich’s song cycle From Jewish Folk Poetry, one of his most intimately evocative compositions, concludes the program. Shostakovich created the work in 1948, but it was premiered only in 1955, due largely to Stalin’s disfavor with the composer and to Soviet anti-Semitism in general.  MOR performs the Shostakovich cycle with soprano Megan Hart, mezzo soprano Kathryn Weld, and tenor Ross Hauck.

Fall Concert Ticket Information:
Tickets: $36
Phone Orders: 206-365-7770
Online Orders:

Fall Concert: The Dybbuk
A concert to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of Kristallnacht
Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall, Seattle
7:30 p.m., Monday, November 8, 2010

6:45 p.m. Meet the Choreographer: John Sharify interviews Donald Byrd

Alexander Krein
Hebrew Sketches, No. 2, Opus 13
Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Leonid Keylin, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Mara Finkelstein, cello

Mikhail Gnessin
Piano Trio, Op. 63 (Dedicated to the Memory of Our Lost Children)
Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Mara Finkelstein, cello; Craig Sheppard, piano

Joel Engel
The Dybbuk Suite World Premiere of MOR Dance Commission from Donald Byrd
Spectrum Dance Theater
Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Leonid Keylin, violin; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Mara Finkelstein, cello; Jonathan Green, double bass; Matthew Kocmieroski, percussion

Dmitri Shostakovich
From Jewish Folk Poetry, Op. 79
Megan Hart, soprano; Kathryn Weld, mezzo soprano; Ross Hauck, tenor
Mina Miller, piano

About Music of Remembrance
Music of Remembrance (MOR) fills a unique spiritual and cultural role in Seattle and throughout the United States by remembering Holocaust musicians and their art through musical performances, educational programs,  musical recordings and commissions of new works. Since its 1998-99 inaugural year, MOR has presented two major concerts annually at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, marking the anniversary of Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) each fall and Holocaust Remembrance Day each spring. Since 2005-06, MOR’s outreach series Sparks of Glory has combined free public concerts with commentary by Artistic Director Mina Miller, reaching beyond the concert hall through performance residencies around Seattle. More information available at

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