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October 15, 2009 - Image 58

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-10-15

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Arts & Entertainment

From Russia With Love

Musician with Detroit ties returns to the Motor
City to perform for the Pro Musica Society.

Suzanne Chessler
Special to the Jewish News


isha Rachlevsky, who left
Detroit in 1991 to tour with
the New American Chamber
Orchestra, is returning with a program
to showcase his internationally touring
Chamber Orchestra Kremlin.
The 17-member ensemble will appear
Friday, Oct. 16, at the Max M. Fisher Music
Center and open the 83rd season of the
Pro Musica Society of Detroit.
"Our program will be mostly Russian
with some South American music," says
Rachlevsky, 62, who grew up in Moscow,
lived in Israel, worked with the Detroit
Symphony Orchestra and returned to
his native land to pursue professional
"We will include Suite in Ancient Style
by Schnittke, Chamber Symphony, Op. 110
by Shostakovich and Serenade for String
Orchestra, Op. 48 by Tchaikovsky for the
Russian part. Three Tangos by Piazzolla
will be for the Argentinian portion.
"I was asked to select 20th-century
pieces and include Argentinian work.
The two most famous Russian compos-
ers of the 20th-century are Schnittke and
Shostakovich, and we will have fantastic
selections from both of them. Tchaikovsky
is a calling card for my orchestra, and
Piazzolla music is among our recordings."
The group's 30 recordings include stu-

dio and live performances, concentrating
on Russian works but also including oth-
ers. Rodion Shchedrin and Kremlin Goes
for Baroque! are among the most recent
releases in the two categories.
"We play a wide range of compositions,
and on this tour, we will be playing 25
different compositions altogether because
different presenters request different pro-
grams:' Rachlevsky says.
"Touring is an excellent source of artis-
tic stimulation — the challenge of facing
new audiences and new halls and the
competition with the local, as well as tour-
ing, formations."
Rachlevsky, without family in the field
of music, knew from an early age that he
wanted to be a violinist and took stud-
ies very seriously. He graduated from the
College of the Moscow Conservatory and
the Gnessin Academy of Music.
"I never had any doubts about what I
would be, and I began working when I was
19 and still in school," he recalls. "I always
loved chamber music and became a mem-
ber of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra."
After serving in the army for a year,
Rachlevsky moved to Israel and made
aliyah in 1973. Although past generations
of his family were observant, his parents
did not keep with the traditions but did
engender a feeling of cultural Judaism.
After a brief time in Israel, the violin-
ist felt he would find more opportunities
in Canada and America. He first went to

South Africa, where
he studied English,

and then moved to Misha Rachlevsky: "I hope to show my old friends in Detroit
Canada before relo- what I'm doing now."
cating to Michigan
to join the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
for the Claves label and decided to use
"I came to Detroit in 1976, and a couple
Russian musicians, organizing them into
of years later, I began actively working in
the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin.
the field of chamber music:' recalls the vio-
"When I decided to start a new orches-
linist and ensemble director. "For the next
tra, I did not want it to be mistaken with
six years, I was combining symphony work
any others:' the violinist says. "I looked for
and my own chamber music concerts."
a name that would not have 'Moscow' or
Rachlevsky left the Detroit Symphony in `Russian' in it, yet would clearly identify
1984 to focus on his touring Renaissance
our origin. `Kremlin Chamber Orchestra'
City Chamber Players, later known as the
would imply a connection with the
New American Chamber Orchestra, and
Moscow Kremlin."
based in the metro area for the following
All Pro Musica ticket holders are invited
four years.
to a reception with the artists immediately
NACO booked nine European tours
after the concert. It will be held in the
during the Michigan years and performed
Atrium of the Max M. Fisher Music Center.
in Israel. During his time in Detroit,
The Pro Musica season will continue
Rachlevsky produced more than 1,000
with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan on Jan.
15 and the TAGI Ensemble on May 21.
"I met my wife, Diana, in Michigan:'
"I hope to show my old friends in Detroit
says the musician, whose marriage now is
what I'm doing now," says Rachlevsky, who
divided between her base in America and
tours four months a year and does some
his base in Russia. "My wife had held pur-
guest conducting and master classes. "I
chasing responsibilities for an automaker,
have very big roots in the city" LI1
and we met at a New Year's Eve party"
In 1989, NACO moved to Spain, where
the group became the resident chamber
Misha Rachlevsky will perform at
orchestra in Granada and where the violin-
8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, at the Max
ist founded Granada's own chamber orches-
M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit.
tra, leading to the disbanding of NACO. In
$45. (313) 576-5111.
1991, he agreed to record Russian works

The Rag Trade

Schmatta unstitches New York garment industry.

Michael Fox
Special to the Jewish News


ew York's garment industry was
the main entry point for countless
unskilled Jewish and (to a lesser
degree) Italian immigrants a century ago.
Over the next few decades, unions
played a major role in increasing the
wages of tens of thousands of cutters,
seamstresses, tailors, etc. Those workers
became part of the American middle class
and could afford to send their children to
college — opening the door for an entire
generation of Jewish professionals.
All of this represents an important chap-
ter in American Jewish history and the
most interesting aspect of Schmatta: Rags to


October 15 • 2009

Riches to Rags, an energetic and superficial
documentary by veteran New York film-
maker Marc Levin (Protocols of Zion).
Levin is interested in the early days as
well as the heyday of the garment district
in midtown Manhattan, but he's plainly
galvanized by the current crisis. He makes
the obvious point that the recession is
more painful for more Americans because
of the massive outsourcing of clothing-
industry jobs to Asia in the last 25 years.
He goes even further to suggest that the
widespread corporate craving for short-
term profits is the main culprit for the
crippled economy.
Levin edges onto Michael Moore's turf
here, although there are more Yiddishisms in
Schmatta than in Capitalism: A Love Story.

Whether one agrees or
disagrees with the film's
thesis, though, it strikes
me as redundant — we're
all pretty aware of the
current state of things
Mindblowing statistics: In 1965, 95 percent of the
— and a misallocation
of time better spent detail- clothing Americans wore was made in the U.S.; today, it's
ing the garment industry's only 5 percent.
central role in New York life
in the middle of the 20th century.
of fashion excesses from the '60s onward).
But Schmatta wants to cover the load-
We do hear briefly about David
ing dock to the boardroom in its brisk 74
Dubinsky, who headed the International
minutes and is less than deft at weaving
Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU)
together all the threads. At various points it
from 1932 to 1966. His power was such
plays like a gritty social history, a chilly busi- that he made the cover of Time magazine,
ness story, a trends piece and a pop-culture
gave orders to senators and organized
nostalgia trip (with its cheap-shot glimpses
and hosted an enormous rally on Seventh

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