Jewish Cello Music (Performance)

This afternoon I played a bundle of Jewish (and related) pieces for cello and piano at a conference of scholars and educators.  Video of my performance with pianist Robert Jorgenson is linked here.  At the page itself, just scroll down to the picture of the cellist and the header entitled “Break: Music of the Holocaust.” It should open in Microsoft Media Player…

Timings and repertoire:

0:00-8:50 tuning, etc. [nothin]

8:50-15:46  “Nigun,” by Ernst Bloch [the story of the Jewish people 犹太故事]

17:05-21:00 “Prayer,” by Ernst Bloch

21:00-23:50 “Supplication,” by Ernst Bloch

24:00-26:00  “Jewish Song,” by Ernst Bloch [犹太民歌]

28:15-38:00 “Kol Niedre” by Max Bruch

40:20-end “Trois Pieces” by Nadia Boulanger

If you’ve been hankering for some good, dark, and soulful music, this may be for you.  If you’re feeling real efficient and want the best we offered up, go for the “Kol Niedre.”

This all reminds me that I did learn a few things about Holocaust education in China which I’ll hope to share at some point soon.  Not only that, but I hope discuss a bit further Jeff Rud’s work on the U.S. bombing of North Korea, since he won an award for writing an essay which made the argument, using Raphael Lemkin’s works, among other things, that U.S. Air Force bombings of North Korea (“Operation Strangle,” etc.) should be debated as genocidal war crimes.  But in the meantime there is always the man’s blog (which includes some new primary source material on left-coast Korean War opposition in the 1950s), and some good Jewish music (which is not to be confused with West Texas heavy metal).

Dancing with the cello as concert preparation at the incomparable "Le Voyeur," Olympia, Washington, March 19, 2010

Sino-Japanese Contrasts

Bifurcated views of Japan within the PRC (and the global Chinese diaspora) are nothing new, but two new Huanqiu photo galleries are particularly striking in this regard.

The first shows some hideously gruesome corpse pictures of what are said to be Chinese victims of Japanese chemical weapons attacks, presumably in Changde in 1940.   If such in-your-face evidence isn’t your thing, try this photograph of some museum claymation of Japanese Kwantung Army soldiers doing frostbite experiments on Chinese civilians in Manchuria.  It’s certainly an interesting question: does the internet reduce or expand the field of possiblity for anti-Japanese commemoration, or, to put it more bluntly, does the internet render such museum displays obsolete?  Museum science in China is developing fast, and, although I won’t have a chance to review in person the giant consortium of anti-Japanese museums in Chengdu until September, I would imagine that these kind of clay models will be out the door within in a generation.  Which still gives them 15 years or so to gum up museum floors.

The second features photos of a new bd, or bande desinee/manga sensation in China, the precocious artist Xia Da (夏达), a Chinese phenom who is apparently making big waves in Tokyo.  The author’s blog isn’t very updated, but it should give you a sense of the kind of typical style in which she works.  Frankly, it’s hard to tell what’s so special about it, but if it’s good enough for the Japanese market, maybe Xinhua should be promoting her work even more.

There is certainly much more to the Sino-Japanese relationship than war crimes memories and Hello Kitty, but it is hard to conceive of a country which is more vilified in China than is Japan, both weighted by historical depictions and simultaneously uplifted by the cultural preferences of Chinese youth.