Jacob - Ber Gimpel Project

The Jacob - Ber Gimpel Theatre Quartet is comprised of:
vocalist, Efim Chorny, pianist Susan Ghergus from Moldavia, Sasha Somish (vocals) from Lemberg/Ukraine and Vanessa Vromans (violin, vocals) from Australia, all with established reputations in the world of traditional Jewish music and are excited to present this special selection of songs from the Yiddish Gimpel Theatre in Lemberg.

Jacob-Ber Gimpel was one of the pioneers of the Yiddish Theatre.

In 1989 Lemberg/Lviv (now Ukraine), Jacob-Ber Gimpel founded the first independent Yiddish theatre in Europe with its own permanent address. Due to Lemberg’s unique demographics, at the time Lemberg’s population was 160,000 people a third of which were Jews, it was possible to secure for the new Yiddish theatre a core audience in Lemberg; because it wasn’t simply an “Emigrant theatre”.

While originally grown from a religious context, in the late 19th century the Yiddish Theater developed into its own independent genre; aiming to provide its audiences with escape from everyday worries and sorrows. Later, the Yiddish Theatre culture played an important role in the development of a new Jewish identity and, against a backdrop of growing anti-Semitism, came to experience a remarkable artistic rise. 

The Gimpel-Theatre in Lviv was not only a central refuge for traveling Jewish theatre troupes, it also developed its own style of musical drama and was frequently invited for guest performance in other cities. Franz kafka, in 1910, attended one such a performance in Prague and was deeply moved. Joseph Roth and Marc Chagall cited the work of the Gimpel Theatre as influence and inspiration for their own creative work.

The novel “Blondzhende Shtern” (Wandering Star) by the famous Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem is based on his experiences during a visit to Lviv in 1905. Until the outbreak of World War II the Gimpel Theatre performed regularly and often and took major influences from modern Western culture.

To this day, the music and stars of the Gimpel Theatre hover in the shadow of the current Klezmer revival; making it due time for them to experience their own renaissance.

The Gimpel Theatre Quartet tracked down songs from this vibrant era of the Gimpel Theater and curated them into a lively concert evening. The goal of the ensemble is to give a forum for these lost musical and cultural treasures.