75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, it’ll present two moving premieres in Central Library

Not only is Monday 27th January Holocaust Memorial Day, it also marks 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau; the largest of the Nazi death camps. 

Manchester Jewish Museum - currently based in Manchester Central Library, as its Cheetham Hill home undergoes an ambitious transformation - will mark the momentous occasion with two premieres of musical and theatrical performances, based on the real-life experiences and testimonies of Manchester Jewry, refugees and Holocaust survivors. 

First up is Songs of Arrival, a free pop-up song performance partly inspired by the Museum’s oral history collection and presented by its very own song-writing group. They worked with baritone singer Peter Brathwaite, Israeli opera composer Na’ama Zisser and composer-saxophonist Joe Steele to highlight the moving stories of Jewish Refugees arriving in Cheetham in the 1930s and 1940s. 

2019 01 17 Na’Ama Zisser
Na’ama Zisser was the first composer to introduce cantorial music into opera

Two songs also draw on themes of migration and cultural integration more generally, including one created with ESOL students at the Abraham Moss Adult Learning Centre. Inspired by the phrase 'thank you, love' - a seemingly unremarkable phrase, yet significant to those on society’s sidelines - this weaves together translations including Arabic, Portuguese and Welsh. Celebration of Love, meanwhile, was written by group member Andy Steele and brings a positive message of 'making peace, not war'. A familiar face on the local open mic circuit, Steele will have his music performed by a larger ensemble for the first time. 

Opera Singer Peter Braithwaitewho is also the Museum’s artist in residence, will conclude this interactive musical installation with one of Na’ama Zisser’s songs Love Sick - performed in Hebrew and based on the Song of Songs (Shir Hashirim), a book in the bible that explores love. Originally from Cheetham, Braithwaite has helped the Museum to curate this innovative and creative event, breathing new life into its treasured archives. 

Staged in in different spaces of the Music Library, these mini performances will be accompanied by archival objects that refugees brought to Manchester - as well as the opportunity to listen to their poignant experiences first-hand.  

Central Library 2
Performances will take place at Central Library, the Jewish Museum’s current home

The event continues by evening with the northern premiere of Holocaust Brunch by London-based Canadian theatre maker and performer Tamara Micner. Fusing dark comedy and beigels, this funny and brave solo show - created with a team of Jewish and non-Jewish artists - brings to life the true stories of two Holocaust survivors connected to Tamara, and pries open an intergenerational wound to explore why we remember the Holocaust and what it is like to live in the shadows of genocide and displacement.

As part of the show’s creation, Micner collaborated with London-based printmaker Yael Roberts, who made The Trauma Documents; a series of original prints that respond to parts of the story and appear throughout the show as video projections. These will be on display at Manchester Central Library alongside the performance.

2019 01 17 Holocaust Memorial Day 2 Holly Revell
A ‘wonderful raconteur,’ Micner creates live communal performances; drawing from her background in improv, dance, acting and playwriting

Both events take place at Manchester Central Library, where the Jewish Museum is based until 2021 as its Cheetham Hill home undergoes an ambitious £5m transformation. Having moved its collections into the library, the museum has created a ‘wandering pop-up’ for the very first time.

Listings: Holocaust Memorial Day at Central Library

SONGS OF ARRIVAL | Henry Watson Music Library | 4-5pm

Songs inspired by the moving stories of Jewish Refugees arriving in Cheetham in the 1930s and 1940s; brought to life with the help of baritone singer Peter Brathwaite (originally from Cheetham), Israeli opera composer Na’ama Zisser and community composer and saxophonist Joe Steele. Free and drop-in

HOLOCAUST BRUNCH | Performance Space | Starts 7.30pm (doors 7pm)

Holocaust Brunch explores what it’s like living in the shadow of genocide and displacement. Darkly funny, moving and provocative, this show asks how we can honour the histories we inherit whilst breaking free from them, and whether the weight of inheritance can be turned into a gift. Tickets £5 on eventbrite; all proceeds go towards the Jewish Museum’s education programme