Music by Jewish composers resounds Sunday from the stage at Omaha’s Jewish Community Center. The concert is called “Voices” and the reason could be due to “5 Songs for Soprano and String Quartet” by Karl Weigl. Evidently he was influenced by Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss and Hugo Wolf and wrote these in 1934 at a time when being Jewish in his homeland was becoming more and more precarious. He managed to flee to the U.S. not long thereafter.

Among the five, he set words from the folk songs and poems in “Des Knaben Wunderhorn,” which had also inspired Mahler, “Invitation for Supper at Martinmas,”  as well as words from of the traditional Catholic prayer “Ave Maria” as transformed by Rudolf List. The others are  “Consolation,” “Summer Afternoon,” and “Rain Song,” with texts by Ina Seidel, by wife Vally Weigl and Klaus Groth. Soprano Jaime Reimer is featured. She’s performed with Opera Omaha, the Lincoln Symphony and more.

The earliest work is from 1909 and is by Max Bruch, likewise German. These are the lyrical and rhapsodic “Eight Pieces for Clarinet, Cello and Piano” which have been personified as sensual and sentimental with “an autumnal maturity of expression, deeply felt but purged of excess,” according to Dr. Richard E. Rodda

American violist Lillian Fuchs wrote her solo viola “Sonata Pastorale” in 1956 when she was 55. The two-part composition has been described as accessibly quasi-baroque while making great demands on the performer.  Omaha Symphony’s Associate Principal Violist Brian Sherwood takes on the challenge.

The other artists heard are violinists Elizabeth Furuta and Juliet Yoshida, violist Thomas Kluge, cellist Sam Pierce Ruhland, and Carmelo Galente playing the clarinet. They are all with the Symphony. Joining them is Yulia Kalishnikova at the piano; she’s on the faculty at Creighton University.

These composers have since left us. They left behind remarkable sounds.

“Voices” is March 26th, Jewish Community Center, 333 S. 132 St. Sun. 7 p.m. Free.

Leave a comment