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Lucette Van Den Berg | Benkshaft

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World: Yiddish Classical: Vocal Music Moods: Type: Vocal
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by Lucette Van Den Berg

New Yiddish songs about love and iife
Genre: World: Yiddish
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. A Kleyn Wiglid Far A Groyse Libe
8:09 $0.99
2. Ikh Hob A Shwalb Gezen
3:30 $0.99
3. A Toyb Mit A Toyb
2:37 $0.99
4. Wolekh
5:26 $0.99
5. Di Waynshlbeymer Blien
3:30 $0.99
6. Akaties-Wals
5:17 $0.99
7. Di Freylekhe Kretshme
3:13 $0.99
8. Der Wint Fun Berg
4:40 $0.99
9. Khrizantemen
3:40 $0.99
10. Harbstike Balade
3:37 $0.99
11. Fli Mayn Foygl
3:17 $0.99
12. Benkshaft
2:40 $0.99
13. Wos Iz Geblibn Oyf Der Welt
3:56 $0.99
14. Ownt
4:22 $0.99
15. Lucette
4:34 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
About Lucette van den Berg
Lucette van den Berg, who had a successful operatic career, took an unexpected path in her musical journey when the language of her heritage pulled her in a more fulfilling direction. A composer, recording artist, teacher and renowned classical singer whose rich soprano illuminates the works of Mozart and Puccini, she now sings exclusively in Yiddish, the language of her grandparents—and, she adds, of her heart.
The transition was not instantaneous. When asked by a stranger to sing in Yiddish while she was visiting Israel, she demurred, saying “My father is Jewish -- I’m not.” The man gave her a book of Yiddish songs, suggesting she pursue the art form because he sensed that it would help me find her soul. Looking back, she calls the stranger “an angel” whose gift caused her to reexamine herself and her roots and signaled a new direction for her work. She says she was not looking for this change, it just happened: “When I peeked into the Yiddish world, it found me, and I realized new opportunities awaited!”
Not raised in the Jewish tradition, Lucette’s father was always fearful of openly acknowledging his roots. A victim of WWII, he was four years old when the war erupted and tore his family apart. His
Jewish identity was kept secret because he was taken in by Christians. This fear has stayed with him throughout his life and, because of this, Lucette
knew little about her own Jewish heritage except for fond memories of her grandmother blending Yiddish words into Dutch vocabulary. Once she began to sing Yiddish music, Lucette discovered an important element in her personal and artistic identity that she now realizes, tells the whole story of her life. As part of a different generation, it has become Lucette’s calling to celebrate and share the passion she feels for her Jewish legacy and the Yiddish language.
With a contagious spirit, Lucette founded the Jiddisch (Yiddish) Festival Leeuwarden in Holland. Part of her motivation came as a result of the events of 9/11, which, to Lucette, shook the entire world, not just the United States. She remembers being pregnant with her son at the time and she became determined to use her music to bridge cultures and build mutual understanding. The opportunity to create this festival came after meeting the director of the Friesland Library where they have a large collection of Yiddish and Jewish book. Serving as the artistic director, Lucette and the library director along with a large consortium of arts and education organizations, created this annual springtime festival that includes musical performances and workshops designed to remember the Jewish culture in a positive way, and to build awareness about acceptance and inclusion.
The singer is especially interested in offering the gift of her music to young people, and she has infused her own son’s life with music -- singing to him before he was born and teaching him to sing in Yiddish at a very early age. Now at age eleven, Lucette’s son loves to sing Yiddish and has developed a passion for opera. He looks forward to his upcoming bar mitzvah where their guests will be delighted with his knowledge and the musical talent he shares with his mother.

A highly acclaimed singer, Lucette has performed her compelling style of Yiddish music throughout Europe and in the US. In 2005, she released her first album of Yiddish songs,
Zing shtil / Yiddish Songs. In addition to her performing and recording career, she is also a vocal coach who is passionate about vocal expression. “I help people find who they are,” she says of her role as an educator. She is also an art history teacher and vocal coach at ROC van Twente, a music and arts college.
Lucette’s most recent CD (Benkshaft) was released in December, 2012. On the new album the singer felt herself “coming more into my own space, letting go of old things.” Lucette composed six of the 15 melodies, and the lyrics are by notable Yiddish writers or taken from traditional Yiddish poems. The album showcases a compelling blend of folk songs and art songs that resonate with Lucette’s expressive, personal interpretation. “I sing the colors that the music gives me,” notes Lucette, who draws on and imparts a sensory experience in her performance. As she sings, Lucette never loses sight of the power of the music to pull people together, and to “connect out” to listeners around the world.

Press Quotes
‘Right from the first song, she put her audience under her musical spell’ ‘I am very deeply touched by this concert...’
Jos van der Wulp – Zwolse Courant (NL)

‘She makes every song to a precious jewel to listen to at one’s leisure’ Jan Waas – NIW (New Jewish Weekly, NL)
'Just by humming, Lucette brings the audience in ecstasy.'

'It must be wonderfull dreaming, when Lucette sings 'Shteyt in feld a beymele' at your bedside' Dick Laning – De Stentor (NL)

‘Like all the music on the album, it's intense and soulful and proves that folk music isn't a thing of the past, but a timeless expression of the human heart. ‘ Jakob Beakgaard – All about Jazz (USA)

‘Your interpretation with that great voice are a real excellent combination’ Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (yiddish poet & composer, New York)

‘She sings yiddish music in a way that expresses the various moods of her music, the sadness, hapiness, the New York feeling. The arangements are quite special and it’s great that she shares new yiddish music with the world’ Leslie Lutsky – Jewish Digest Radio Show (Canada)

‘What a lovely voice she has’ Jaques Klöters – De Sandwich (Radio Show Avro, NL)

‘I love her style’ Peter Halpern – collegue, singer, cantor (USA)

‘Her beautiful voice reminds me of my mothers voice’ Rabbi Awram Soetendorp – Rabbi (NL)

‘Thank you for your beautiful, sad and comforting music’ Saskia Goldschmidt – writer (NL)

‘I like your voice very much, it fits yiddish so well. And on top of everything, you are as beautiful as your voice! There is hope for the future of yiddish.’ Ben ZImet – yiddish singer, actor & storyteller

‘I’m impressed by the power of your voice and your music’ Jan Douwe Kroeske – Radioshow ‘Twee meter de lucht in’ (NL)

About CD 'Benkshaft'

As a renowned opera singer, Lucette van den Berg interpreted composers from Mozart to Puccini. But it wasn’t until she sought an artistic connection with her Jewish heritage that she found her true voice. Acclaim for her first CD of Yiddish music in 2005 led the singer to embrace a new direction in her profession. Now with Benkshaft (Dot Time Records), an album of hauntingly beautiful and dramatic Yiddish songs, the musical artist has emerged as a tour de force in the genre.

The English translation of the Yiddish word benkshaft is longing, a theme that runs throughout the CD—longing for love, for youth, for happiness, and as in the title song, for the release that comes through faith. “Longing is the thing you cannot grasp. It’s a feeling with different colors,” explains van den Berg. “When I look at my life, it’s been a very powerful force.”

The songs on the album are a kaleidoscope of life. A Kleyn Wiglidl Far A Groyser Libe (“A Little Lullaby for a Great Love”) could be interpreted as a sad love song, but is actually a reaction to the senseless death of a child. A Yiddish poem forms the lyrics of Ikh Hob A Shwalb Gezen (“I Saw a Swallow”), a wistful and determined song about hope. A Toyb Mit A Toyb (“A Dove with a Dove”) describes an image that expresses love when words fail. A childlike wonder of earth’s beauty is expressed in Di Waynshl-Beymer Blien (“The Cherry Trees are in Bloom”) and Akatsies-Wals (“Acacia Waltz”) compares the blossom of the Acacia with bridal flowers, expressing a longing for pure and everlasting love.

Songs of love may be the heart of the CD, but the compositions about heritage form its soul. Harbstike Balade (“Autumnal Ballad”) speaks of life’s calling—the quest in search of self. This theme permeates all of van den Berg’s music, beckoning everyone to join in her journey. The evocative lyrics (provided in Yiddish and English on the CD cover) and sensitive musical accompaniment offer a fulfilling bond between the singer and her audience. “Emotionally and technically, I wanted to say, there are no layers between me and the listener,” explains van den Berg. “The music says, ' here’s my feeling. Take me as I am.’”

Van den Berg composed 6 of the 15 songs on the CD, and many of the lyrics were contributed by Yiddish poet Michael Felsenbaum, who told the performer that her voice “asked for a challenging repertoire.” Their collaboration offers something new, an arresting blend between the folk song and art song.

The music performed on Benkshaft could be considered a sensual feast. Van den Berg often refers to not only the sound, but the colors and flavors of life as she describes her music, and listeners are drawn into the feeling of the songs whether or not they understand the lyrics. Her love for theater and storytelling is evident in her delivery, inviting everyone into the musical experience. The CD was recorded live, with van den Berg and musicians performing together in a circle to add to the immediacy and power of the stories that unfold with each note.

A gift of a Yiddish songbook propelled the classically trained Dutch vocalist to begin performing in her great grandparents’ native tongue. The transition became official after she spent several weeks with the famous Yiddish singer and writer Beyle Gottesman, who helped her learn and explore the rich language and culture of Yiddish. “That is when my journey started,” explains van den Berg. Her ongoing goal is to capture and communicate the emotional “colors” expressed in lyrics and melodies. “It has to do with harmony and connection. Music is so powerful, and Yiddish expresses the power of small things.”

As she renders Yiddish music, the striking blond soprano rejoices in the connection to her father’s Jewish roots and masterfully shares that cultural voice in her performance. Van den Berg explains: “It’s me choosing for my soul—where I am in this world. When I started, it felt like I was finding the voice of my heart. ”

Although the music is very popular with those who have cultural ties to the language, many of van den Berg’s fans are not Jewish. Her audience reacts to her personal and authentic presentation of the songs. “I put a lot of time into the quality of singing and knowing my craft. But at the end, you have to stand on your feet and know what you are. That’s what I invested in.”

Lucette van den Berg is one of the top performers in the Yiddish music field and is often invited to festivals and concert venues, such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Enschede Music Center, and has toured across Europe and the USA. The Dutch national companies, the KRO and AVRO, and the WDR of Germany have broadcast her performances. Van den Berg is artistic director of the Jiddisch Festival Leeuwarden in the Netherlands and is much in demand as a singing coach and leader of Yiddish song workshops.



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