A Symphony of History: Jewish Music Festival Resonates in Trieste

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Trieste's Synagogue
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by InTrieste

As the sun sets over the Adriatic Sea, the Terrace of the Jewish Museum of Trieste will come alive with the haunting and powerful strains of Jewish music. This year marks the seventeenth edition of the Erev/Layla Festival of Jewish Music and Culture, a week-long celebration that promises to be as enlightening as it is inspiring.

From June 18 to June 27, the festival, organized by the Associazione Musica Libera in collaboration with the Jewish Community Museum of Trieste, the Jewish Community of Trieste, and the Viktor Ullmann Festival, will feature four free-entry concerts. These performances are a tribute to the resilience and creativity of Jewish composers whose works have too often been marginalized.

The highlight of this series is set for Tuesday, June 25, when the Duo Elimo—comprised of Giovanni Cardillo on violin and Francesco Buffa on piano—takes the stage. Their performance will feature pieces by Italian composers Aldo Finzi, Alberto Gentili, and Giorgio Federico Ghedini, whose music was deemed “degenerate” during the turbulent years of the early 20th century.

Davide Casali, the festival’s artistic director, speaks with palpable passion about the event. “This festival is culturally very evolved, featuring music that spans the entire Jewish world and is often rare in performance,” Casali said. “It showcases young musicians from across Europe who perform boundaryless music, reconnecting us with the rich Jewish culture of the past and allowing us to discover its continued vibrancy through both culture and music.”

The festival, supported by the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, is more than just a series of concerts. It is a historical and cultural exploration, providing a platform for music that speaks of survival and memory. The collaboration with the Jewish Museum enhances this narrative, making Trieste a vital cultural destination.

The Duo Elimo, both graduates of the Antonio Scontrino Conservatory of Music in Trapani, brings a unique energy and creativity to their performances. Their repertoire, ranging from the 18th century to contemporary works, has garnered them recognition and opportunities to premiere compositions by modern composers like Richard Faith and Giovanni Sollima.

In 2018, Duo Elimo released “Note Scordate,” a CD featuring music by Gentili, Ghedini, and Vittorio Rieti, accompanied by a book from historian Elisa Fogarollo. This project, addressing the persecution of Jewish musicians during the racial laws, has sparked numerous concerts and seminars on anti-Semitic hatred. Their upcoming performance continues this mission, reminding audiences of the enduring power of music to bear witness to history.

The festival will conclude on Thursday, June 27, with a performance by young pianists from the school of Pierpaolo Levi. These students will present works by Jewish composers persecuted during World War II, a fitting end to a festival that honors memory through music.

“The inclusion of such young students studying this repertoire is immensely important and a source of pride for the festival,” Casali concluded.

All concerts begin at 9:00 PM and are free to the public until seating is full. In case of bad weather, performances will move to an indoor venue.

For further information, contact info@musicalibera.it, call +39 340 081 3203, or visit www.museoebraicoditrieste.it.

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