Manchester Jewish Museum Song-Writing Group

Hello and welcome to our song-writing group. We write songs together which are inspired by the unique and yet universal stories of Jewish Mancunians in the museum’s collection. We always welcome new members, you don’t have to be an expert musician just enthusiastic about giving things a go – don’t be shy, we would love to have your input!

We are always looking for singers, lyric writers, instrumentalists or those wanting to help with the tech.

We are planning another creative project using stories from our collection in August to write some new songs together. This will be remote using Zoom. You don’t need to be good with tech as our Aaron helps us all out. If you are interested in joining in send Laura an email and she can give you some more information:

One of the stories we will be exploring in August links the Titanic, yummy Jewish food and Cheetham Hill in Manchester… Intrigued?

Some of the other stories we have written songs about this year feature Jewish refugees coming to Manchester in the 1930s, the difficulties of finding a job in the 1920s and all have had surprising resonance with current events. If you like history, real life stories and meeting people from many different backgrounds with different experiences – then this is the group for you!

The song-writing process in action

Usually we meet together in Cheetham and from Spring 2021 we will be able to meet up at Manchester Jewish Museum when we re-open after our exciting development project. While we are in lockdown we have been meeting on zoom and have produced some new songs which were recorded remotely with each group member contributing from home by recording on their phones. We performed these at the Cheetham Cultural Festival Virtual Spring Fling in May – you can watch the event here:

Since summer 2019 we have been working with composer/saxophonist Joe Steele and singer Peter Brathwaite. They are the musicians in residence at the museum and have been helping to get creative and express ourselves. We have also been working with Aaron Fletcher form Buzzin’ Sounds studio in Cheetham to be able to record songs digitally whilst we’re unable to perform live.

Peter in action with RNCM musicians at the Festival of Belonging

You can see more about Joe and his work here:

You can see more about Peter’s work here and we recommend following his twitter feed where his has recreated black portraiture as part of the Getty Challenge during lockdown @PeterBrathwaite

We have performed for Holocaust Memorial Day at Manchester Central Library, Manchester Jewish Museum’s Festival of Belonging and The Cheetham Cultural Festival.

Marie Zweig who came to Manchester in the 1930s and inspired one of our songs

Our first project focused on the stories of Ilse and Marie who came to Manchester to escape Nazi persecution in the 1930s. We also commissioned composer Na’ama Zisser to write a song which was performed by Peter and Musicians from the Royal Northern College of Music. This piece is called Beloved Visitors and gives voice to stories from the museum’s archives of Jewish refugees that Na’ama spent time listening to. You can see more about Na’ama’s work here:

Voice of Ilse Jacobs from our archives describing her experience. We were inspired by her story and we wrote a song about her arrival in Manchester in the 1930s.

Our second project explored the stories of Lily, Maurice and Martin who all grew up as part of the large Jewish community in Cheetham during the early 20th century. They all went on to work in the textile factories which were an important part of Jewish working culture at that time. They described their frustrations, the sheer hard labour and their hopes for the future. we used these as a starting point to think about how our work has changed especially in lockdown. We found some amazing connections with the families of some of our group who were from different cultural backgrounds but also worked in the textile factories.

Fabulous music-making, Manchester Jewish Museum, Music

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