Composer wanted!

Manchester Jewish Museum (MJM) is temporarily re-locating to Manchester Central Library while a major redevelopment project takes place. During this phase we are looking for a composer/sound artist to help us develop a 1-year participatory programming strand. The Music strand is an opportunity to work in collaboration with singer Peter Brathwaite (who is originally from Cheetham Hill) to explore different kinds of arrivals to Manchester and how a sense of belonging is fostered. Using our oral history collection as a springboard to facilitate conversations around contemporary migrations, this strand will involve local Cheetham Hill groups, migrant community groups and Manchester Jewish communities in a creative experience of song composing. It will attempt to answer the questions: what does it feel like to arrive in an unknown place willingly or unwillingly and how do we establish a sense of belonging?

The strand will use the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester as its psycho-geographic inspiration – recreating the sounds and other senses of the area both historically and contemporarily. The museum’s oral history collection includes stories of refugees/holocaust survivors who describe arriving in Cheetham Hill in the 1930s and 1940s.  Preliminary research has been done for possible stories in our oral history collection.

Working with a group of 8-10 participants who live in Cheetham Hill area, Peter and the composer will lead a series of song-writing workshops, building up to a performance as part of Holocaust Memorial Day and a museum mini-fest planned for March 2020 at Central Library.

Possible strand outcomes:

6 workshop sessions with Peter Brathwaite and the composer

  1. Intro to the oral history material and sharing of own stories
  2. Libretto writing selecting stories/quotes form oral histories and own stories
  3. Musical development
  4. Musical development
  5. Recorded material/walking session in Cheetham Hill
  6. Performance strategies

Songbook (digitally accessible on museum website)

Performance as part of Holocaust Memorial Day and at museum mini-fest in March

We are looking for a composer who enjoys working within community settings as well as with more traditional arts audiences. They should be willing to spend time with the museum’s collection, using our oral histories as a starting point to make connections with other cultural histories. They should be experienced in facilitating group music-making/composing with participants who do not necessarily read music. They should also have experience of working with refugee and migrant groups, be aware of potential sensitivities when working with a diverse group and be able to sign-post for further support if necessary. 

How to apply:

Please write a one page statement explaining how your musical practice fits this brief and email it to our Creative Producer, Laura Seddon by Wed 8th May

This project is in the early stages of development. There is a fee available – please give an indication of you daily rate in your application. We are hoping to start this work in the summer – please also give an indication of general availability until March 2020.

There is an opportunity to find out more about the museum’s collections and this strand of programming at our artists’ networking day on Wednesday 1st May 6-8pm 2019 at the museum. If you would like to attend, please let us know and we will reserve you a place.

If you would like an informal chat about the project, please call Laura on 0161 834 9879

Extra Info:

Peter Brathwaite

Peter comes from Cheetham Hill in Manchester. He created Degenerate Music: Music Banned by the Nazis, which brings together song, visuals and spoken word in an effort to recover the lesser-known works of composers silenced by the Nazi regime. The show is a reimagining of the infamous Entartete Musik (Degenerate Music) exhibition of 1938, intended by the Nazi government to alert the German public to “inferior and ultimately dangerous” forms of music, particularly jazz and Jewish music. Through bravura interpretations of songs by Hanns Eisler and Bertolt Brecht; Mischa Spoliansky; Kurt Weill and Lion Feuchtwanger; Friedrich Hollaender and Kurt Tucholsky; excerpts from Ernst Krenek’s jazz-opera Jonny spielt auf and atonal Schoenberg, the performance highlights the extraordinary range of musical styles unjustly branded as “degenerate”, and gives a fascinating insight into the Berlin political cabarets of the Twenties and Thirties. The songs are interspersed with spoken excerpts from the Entartete Musik exhibition pamphlet (1938), whilst video projections show scenes of everyday life during the days of the Weimar Republic.

Since premiering at the 2014 London Song Festival, the show has been featured on BBC Radio, toured the UK and has been presented in Berlin. 2018 saw the concept developed into a fully staged production entitled Effigies of Wickedness, a collaboration between English National Opera and the Gate Theatre.


Example oral history testimonies in our Collection from Jewish refugees in the 1930s and 1940s who came to Cheetham Hill:

Gabriel Brodie (J318) describes arriving in Manchester in 1939 and not being able to find the address they needed to go to in Middleton Road, feelings about assimilation, being here during the war. Was from Czechoslovakia and got here just before they stopped visas.

Hilda Barrett (nee Levy) (2012.50.9) From Cologne came to Manchester 1939. Lived in Myer Kersh House on Waterloo Road, Cheetham then Hostel moved to Northumberland Street, also lived in Park Road and Bellott Street in Cheetham – discusses lack of education, feeling out of place etc, being a member of the International Club in George St (China town now).

Walter Brunner (2012.50.14) From Vienna, first arrived to Gateshead but father was in old people’s home in Cheetham Hill Road and he wanted to also move to Manchester. After internment in Wharf Mills (he enjoyed learning there) lived in Ashbourne Grove, Cheetham then Wellington Street Cheetham. Discusses levels of Orthodoxy, assimilation, experiences as a refugee and seeing others’ difficulties.

Edmund and Matilda Goldman (married) (2012.50.26) Matilda’s parents ran the Cassel Fox Hostel Edmund one of the refugees at the Hostel, then lived in Leicester Road over Halberstadt’s Butchers.  Interesting story of a family and insights into the running of the hostel.

Mrs Halberstadt (2012.50.29) Wife of the Butcher on Leicester Road came on a domestic visa to Liverpool then Gateshead and then Manchester but good descriptions of life in Manchester

Michael Hammelburger (2012.50.30) parents ran the refugee hostel on Heywood Street, Cheetham. Describes different Jewish communities in Cheetham and assimilating as a young boy.

Ilse Jacobs (2012.50.40) lived in refugee hostel Great Clowes Street and then father rented a house there – moved to Kershaw House in South Manchester later – after married started a bakery in Cheetham Hill – discusses refugee experience and female experience.

Leo Stein (2012.50.65) Lived in Fox Cassel Hostel, Upper Park Road, then Great Clowes Street boarding house then a rented house in Northumberland Street. Descriptions of Cheetham, life in refugee hostels, reactions to refugees from Orthodox community. Also includes wife’s description of feeling disappointed when she got to Manchester.

Meyer Hersh (J329) Middleton Road, Cheetham Hill. Describes arriving in Manchester, fog, differences between Poland and the UK, life in hostels, learning English, becoming a tailor. 

Izek Alterman (J331) Middleton Road, then Cluny Street Cheetham Hill. Describes hostels in Cheetham, being a mechanic and then going into the jewellery business.

Sam Walshaw (J333) Northumberland Street, off Mandley Park. Describes life at the hostel in Northumberland Street, street fights, how he became less religious and how he feels about that, difficulties in finding a job he wanted to do, becoming a furrier, living with other refugees (the 4 musketeers – Karl, Jack and Sam) 

Karl Kleiman (J334) Northumberland Street, then Murray Street. Describes the hostels in Cheetham Hill, getting work as a furrier, learning English and becoming less religious as had to work and take bus on Shabbas, renting a home with other males Jewish refugees.

Mendel Beale (J362) Worked in Cheetham Hill and lived Middleton Road. Family connections already in Manchester who were helping to support his family in Poland (Leah Friedland) rich descriptions of arriving in Manchester, finding it hard to assimilate with ultra-orthodox, becoming a watchmaker in Cheetham Hill, Learning English through having a girlfriend, no-one being prepared to listen to his story, setting up businesses.