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Stephen Wise To Host Mieczyslaw Weinberg Centennial Concert

Stephen Wise Free Synagogue will host a concert May 19 celebrating the centennial of prolific Polish-Jewish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg. The program will feature Weinberg's "24 Preludes for Solo Cello" performed by Yosif Feigelson, Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" with pianist Ilya Yakushev, and several of Weinberg's Yiddish songs performed by Stephen Wise Cantor Daniel Singer.

Born in Warsaw in 1919, Weinberg entered the Warsaw Conservatory to study piano, and graduated in 1939. He composed his first string quartet and berceuse for piano before fleeing to the Soviet Union by foot at the outbreak of World War II. His parents and sister stayed behind and died in the Trawniki concentration camp. Soviet agents assassinated Weinberg's father-in-law, the famous actor Solomon Mikhoels, and arrested the composer for "Jewish bourgeois nationalism," but he was saved by the death of Joseph Stalin. Weinberg's legacy includes 22 symphonies, 17 string quartets, ballets, operas, and an enormous volume of instrumental and vocal music, including for movies and theater. Living in the shadow of his friend and mentor Dmitri Shostakovich, Weinberg received little recognition, especially outside of Russia. Only in recent years, has his music finally received wide attention in the West.

"Twenty-Four Preludes for Solo Cello, Op. 100" was written 1969 for legendary cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich. With formidable emotional power, the work provides an impressive display of Weinberg's composing technique. It is a true encyclopedia of styles and genres, incorporating Jewish, Polish, and Russian-inspired melodies and rhythms, neo-classical niceties, and both minimalism and atonality. Weinberg's preludes are akin to vivid paintings, and will be juxtaposed by Mussorgsky's famed "Pictures at an Exhibition."

This centennial concert is a cooperation between Stephen Wise Free Synagogue and Improvis Productions, an independent presenter. It is made possible in part by agenerous gift from Elias Charitable Foundation. Tickets are available in advance at Regular admission is $30 in advance and $40 at the door. Tickets for students and seniors are $20 in advance or at the door. Children under 15 will be admitted free of charge.

Dubbed by the critics as "a Caruso of cello," Latvian-born Yosif Feigelson was the first musician to record and to play the U.S. premiere of "24 Preludes" in 1995. The son of an opera tenor in Riga, he is winner of the prestigious Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow and recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant. Learn more about him at

Pianist Ilya Yakushevhas been praised worldwide by critics and audiences alike. "Mr. Yakushev can do just about anything he wants," wrote classical music critic Anne Midgette in The New York Timesafter Yakushev's American debut. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, he won numerous important awards before coming to the United States to study with distinguished pianist Vladimir Feltsman. Learn more about him at

Cantor Daniel Singer has served Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York City for more than 10 years. As comfortable singing grand opera as he is singing Broadway, pop, jazz, or folk music, Singer is an accomplished recording artist, multi-faceted guitarist, pianist and composer of new music for the synagogue and stage. He is also a voice actor with national credits for radio, television, and animated feature films. Learn more about him at About Stephen Wise Free Synagogue:

A vibrant Reform congregation on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Stephen Wise Free Synagogue has served as a catalyst for progressive Jewish thought, committed social action in the local community and beyond, and support for Israel for more than 100 years. To learn more, visit

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