By David Fligg
PtJA’s Project Consultant, David Fligg, avoided the Beast from The East’s wintry weather in late February, by escaping to Israel.
Amongst his activities there, he was invited to give a lecture in Modi’in, to the Israel Genealogical Research Association (IGRA) on how he’s applied archival research methods in tracking down information on Gideon Klein’s family, material which was assumed to have been lost during the Holocaust. The invitation came via Modi’in resident, originally from Leeds, Marion Stone, who attended the PtJA’s ‘Out of the Shadows’ festival in the Czech Republic. Marion later wrote an article about the festival for Israel’s leading ex-pat publication Esra Magazine. That prompted journalist Lucille Cohen to write her own article for the magazine, as previously reported on the PtJA’s website, which in turn, and in a roundabout way, resulted in David’s invitation from IGRA.
David was also invited by Gila Flam, Director of the Music Department of the National Library of Israel, to view the music and sound archive there. Gila is closely associated with the PtJA’s work, and curates the largest single collection of Jewish and Israeli music in print, manuscripts and recordings.
“It’s a unique collection,” says David, “and I was genuinely overwhelmed by what I saw. For me, one of the highlights was being able to look through the personal archive of the songwriter Naomi Shemer, and actually see her original manuscript of the song ‘Jerusalem of Gold’—there in Jerusalem!”
David and Gila were also joined by Zvi Semel from the Jerusalem Academy for Music and Dance, and the Jerusalem Music Centre who, like Gila, has presented at PtJA events. One of the outcomes of David’s visit is that the Library plans to host the Israeli launch of David’s forthcoming biography of Gideon Klein.
Tel Aviv’s Karov Theatre was also on David’s itinerary, as the theatre is keen to stage a Hebrew language performance of Gideon Klein: Portrait of a Composer, and accompanying educational workshops. The play was originally devised by David for the ‘Out of the Shadows’ festivals in the UK, USA and Czech Republic, and the production has been re-dramatised by playwright Brian Daniels for performances to mark Klein’s centenary next year.
“The Karov Theatre is especially interesting,” explains David, “focusing as it does on cultural and educational projects in the community, and discovering, and working with, young talents—ideals which would have resonated with Klein’s own vision as an educator.”
Funding is central to Karov’s envisaged production. Says David, “If any generous sponsors are interested in this project, they should contact me directly at email@example.com.”
David’s new biography of Gideon Klein will be issued by Toccata Press in 2019 for the Klein centenary. As part of the centenary commemorations, David, along with other PtJA colleagues, will stage a series of events in the Czech Republic, GidoFest100. Gideon Klein: Portrait of a Composer will be performed in repertory at Prague’s Svando Theatre in Czech from December 2019, and in its English version during 2020.
David’s chapter on Klein will appear in The Routledge Companion to Music under German Occupation, 1938-1945: Propaganda, Myth and Reality, to be published later this year. His performing editions of Klein’s Topol (The Poplar Tree), and Movement for Solo Harp are shortly to be published by Boosey and Hawkes.