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September 21, 1984 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-09-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

30

Fri day , September 21, 1984 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

JULES DONESON

TRAVEL AGENCY, INC.

takes great pleasure in announcing
the return of

MOVIES

Soviet Emigre Orchestra shines in film

JUDY SCHWARTZ

(formerly with Travel Unlimited)

to our staff of professional travel consultants
in the Harvard Row Mall at 11 Mile and Lahser Rds.

353-5811

Members of the Soviet Emigre Orchestra in a scene from the fi

1

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INMAT1ON

FRE IIVF R U O LB LIC F S
ITNESS
CLASSES

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INDOOR
. F FIE E &
PO O O U LT SDOOR

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FREE

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NAUTILUS &
UNIVERSAL
EQUIPMENT

INDOOR
& OUTDOOR
JOGGING

Good towards dues. initiation guest passes
Or restaurant 5100.00 Certificate issued for
family or couples memberships. 575.00 Cer
tilicate for singles .

thletiC
Social Club
30333 SOUTHFIELD RD.
Between 12
13 Mile Acts I
PLACE

lid

, "Musical Passage."

BY TEDD SCHNEIDER
Staff Writer

Presented by
L11211j HALL REAL

ESTATE GROUP

646-8990.

When Lazar Gosman speaks of
his spacious Long Island, N.Y.
home as "Mortgage Manor," he is
not making sardonic references to
current interest rates. Rather, the
music director and principal vio-
linist of the renowned Soviet
Emigre Orchestra is letting his
audience know in no uncertain
terms that he feels privileged to
be able to take part in a practice
which he considers so uniquely
American — after all, house pay-
ments were not part of the Soviet
lifestyle he fled from nearly eight
years ago.
It is that sense of wonder with
the potpourri of Amercan culture,
and the 16-member orchestra's
unabashed pride in its newfound,
uncensored musical existence
that fuels Musical Passage, Jim
Brown's 1983 documentary being
showcased by the Detroit Film
Theater this weekend.
Gosman, who immigrated to
the United States from Russia
with his family in 1977 primarily
so that his son might have the
chance to grow up apart from
Soviet religious and cultural re-
pression, formed the ensemble
two years after his arrival in New
York. It would, he felt at the time,
serve as a kind of support group
for new emigres.
The 75-minute film alternates
interviews with Gosman, his wife
and the other musicians, with per-
formance footage shot on location
in Virginia, Florida and New
York. During the early portion of
the movie, the graying, articulate
violinist reminisces, with no ap-
parent bitterness, about his
childhood in the USSR. The prom-
ising, young musician led a shel-
tered existence, honing his talent
in the best schools. It was not until
Gosman heard officials talk about

composers such as Shostakovich
and Prokofiev as enemies of the
Soviet people, and how he would
be severly reprimanded if caught
playing works by these, and other
banned masters, that Gosman
learned to hate the lack of artistic
freedom which had become com-
monplace in his homeland.
Even after Gosman had been
granted permission to leave, he
feared the government would
have the last word by refusing to
allow him to take his most trea-
sured possession, his violin, to
America. Because Mrs. Gosman
had her own passport, under her
maiden name, the two decided it
might be easier to get the beloved
instrument out of the country if
the emigration authorities be-
lieved it belonged to her and not
her musically prominent hus.:
band. While bargining with the
officials, Mrs. Gosman put up a
brave front and convinced them
that the violin had some senti-
mental value, but that she
wouldn't pay very much in order
to keep it. The deceitfully casual
approach worked as the emigra-
tion people shrugged their shoul-
ders and told her to take it.
The film manages to make the
sensitive point that although
there are many good reasons for
artists to seek emigration from
the Soviet Union, it is never easy
to pick up and start a new life in
an unknown country.
"The difficulty of leaving, of
breaking in pieces your life and
starting over elsewhere, is not a
matter of luck, and starting over
elsewhere, is not a matter of luck,
but skill and determination," ac-
cording to one orchestra member.
For many in the group, the sac-
rifices were painful, as were the
experiences they encountered

upon arrival in the United States.
Grigory Zaritsky, the emigre or-
chestra's principal second vio-
linist, spent two years looking for
work and then sold his violin so
that his family could survive. For
musicians like Zaritsky, the or-
chestra was a godsend.
Co-starring with the members
of the orchestra, is the movie's
powerful musical score, captured
during rehearsals, concerts, and
even an impromptu, jazzy jam
session at Gosman's home. The
music director and his charges
talk about being able to perform
works by respected composers for
the first time in their lives with-
out the fear of punishment. Gos-
man expresses a special prefer-
ence for Shostakovich; who,
though Gentile, incorporated
Jewish melodies into much of his
repertoire.
"He considered himself one of
the victims as well," the violinist
says, alluding to the fact that op-
pression, in all its forms, created a
common bond between the artist
and the would-be religiously ob-
servant in Russia.
In one of the film's most emo-
tional moments, the Soviet
Emigre Orchestra is seen per-
forming in a Florida synagogue,
an experience that the orchestra
members find most satisfying be-
cause they know it is something
that could never be duplicated in
the Soviet Union. Brown, who
serves as the film's cinematog-
rapher as well as director, gives us
closeups of each member of the or-
chestra, revealing that they are
taking this performance, perhaps
more seriously than most.
Another musical highlight is a
performance of the last movement
of Haydn's Symphony No. 45 in F
Minor, the Farewell Symphony.

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