Lena Bloch creates a new jazz suite in Brooklyn, October 16

On the 130th anniversary of the birth of Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, at a time when immigrants, women and artists face a growing struggle in the United States, renowned Russian-born saxophonist and composer Lena Bloch creates My Name Is Marina, a commissioned jazz suite for ensemble and voice with his own English translations of works by Tsvetaeva.

“Throughout my life, Tsvetaeva served as a model of resilience as an immigrant, an artist and a woman,” Bloch says, “all of these things having been beleaguered in modern political discourse, all the more reason to amplify her voice for a modern audience.”

Vocalist Kyoko Kitamura, pianist Jacob Sacks, bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Michael Sarin will join Bloch for the performance. The piece is commissioned by a grant from Chamber Music America’s Artistic Projects program, funded by the Howard Gilman Foundation and supporting New York-based projects. The show is supported by the Russian-American Cultural Center.

∙ Sunday, October 16, Scholes Street Studio, 375 Lorimer St., Brooklyn. In person and live. Free, donations accepted. For more information, call 718-964-8763 or visit https://www.scholesstreetstudio.com/. Live stream available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uG6PoLN26j4&feature=youtu.be.

My Name Is Marina was also performed on Sunday October 2 at the Marlene Meyerson JCC in Manhattan. Audio/video available. For more information, call 646-505-4444 or visit https://mmjccm.org/programs/person-my-name-marina-jazz-suite-celebrating-russian-poet-marina-tsvetaeva.

Tsvetaeva is considered one of the greatest poetesses of Russian and world literature of the 20th century. Although her work is revered in her native Russia and in Europe, she is less well known in the United States, unlike her contemporaries like Alexandr Blok, Anna Akhmatova and Boris Pasternak. Born in Moscow in 1892 to a teacher and a concert pianist, Tsvetaeva published her first collection of poems at the age of 18. She lived through turbulent years in Russian history, facing separation from her husband and children and leaving home to live in Berlin, Prague and Paris. . She eventually returned to the Soviet Union where her husband was executed and her surviving daughter was sent to a labor camp. After facing poverty, exile and great loss, she died in 1941. Her poems are known for their passion and lyricism, linguistic experimentation, the influence of folk songs and the portrayal of experiences women.

Bloch was also born in Moscow, immigrating to Israel and then to Europe, where she played jazz for 12 years before moving to New York in 2008 and quickly becoming a contributor to the city’s fertile jazz scene. His unique cultural background contributes to his original style, personal expression and wide range of influences, from Eastern European and Middle Eastern traditions to classical music of the 20th and 21st centuries.

As one of the first jazz artists to interpret Tsvetaeva’s poetry through music, Bloch uses her own English translations of Tsvetaeva’s work to improvise and reimagine the artist’s poetic legacy through her own composition lens. Bloch’s project introducing Tsvetaeva’s poetry to American audiences marks the 130th anniversary of Tsvetaeva’s birth (October 8).

According to Bloch, “Tsvetaeva’s themes are particularly relevant to this country of immigrants, now more than ever. Her poetry never lamented the status of a foreigner in a foreign land, never dwelt on loneliness or the isolation of a life in exile. Instead, her work celebrated the strength she drew from her uprooted existence: the power she had to speak freely despite all circumstances, the indomitable will to persevere. These aspects of his work resonate with me as a lifelong nomad, and they will resonate with countless immigrants to this country.”

Lena Bloch is a Russian-born saxophonist, composer and bandleader, based in New York since 2008. She has led her own chamber groups, performing original music since 1990, in Israel, Europe and the United States , notably at the Red Sea Jazz Festival (Israel), Leverkusener Jazz Tage and Ingolstaedter Jazz Tage (Germany), Jazz Lent Maribor (Slovenia), Voronezh Jazz Festival (Russia), Washington Women in Jazz Festival, Vermont Jazz Center Festival and Temple of the Arts Festival (USA). As a saxophonist, she has worked with Embryo, Steve Reid, Mala Waldron, Roberta Piket, Sumi Tonooka, Vishnu Wood, Harvey Diamond, Sébastien Ammann and many other American and European conductors. Performances of My Name Is Marina are supported and promoted by the
Russian-American Cultural Center (RACC).

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