Diasporas & Dreams: Singing for a Better World

Elliot Church, 474 Centre St., Newton Corner


 

People throughout history have been pushed from their homes by forces beyond their control. As Jews, we have a particular, centuries-old connection with this reality, and we find commonality with the pain and aspirations of all people who find themselves in a diaspora. We sing in support of those who are strangers in a strange land, who long for a fabled ancestral homeland while at the same time wanting to build a promising, normal life for themselves and their family in a new home.

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A Besere Velt – A Better World – is proud to be a “voice” for justice. This 60-member community chorus of the Boston Workmen's Circle Center for Jewish Culture & Social Justice, conducted by Derek David, weaves the heartache and irrepressible idealism of Yiddish folk music into a vision of justice and humanity for the 21st century. From haunting melodies to workers’ anthems, the songs come alive with multi-layered harmonies. The repertoire of A Besere Velt grew out of the shtetls, the sweatshops and union meetings, the camps and ghettos. These folk songs make the richness of the Eastern European immigrant experience accessible to a generation of non-Yiddish speakers. They contain the sounds of the history, the culture and the progressive values that have influenced generations.

Twelve years after making his professional operatic debut, Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell is now a vocalist, composer and arranger specializing in Yiddish song. This work has brought him to stages in Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, New York, Tel Aviv, London, Berlin, Warsaw and Krakow, Symphony Space in New York City and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Anthony has recently released an EP with klezmer trio Veretski Pass called Convergence, combining a century of African-American and Ashkenazi Jewish music. He also performs in a Yiddish songwriting duo with accordionist and keyboardist Dmitri Gaskin called Tsvey Brider. Anthony lives in Massachusetts with his husband, Rabbi Michael Rothbaum.