The Wannsee Recordings
Ensemble Meitar has been involved in an important and unique film project: "Am Grossen Wannsee - The Wannsee Recordings." Filmed and produced by Los Angeles based filmmaker Emre Amram Sonmez, and co-produced by the Artistic Director of Ensemble Meitar, Amit Dolberg, "The Wannsee Recordings" was filmed on January 20, 2009, at the Wannsee Villa in Berlin.
Ensemble Meitar, with the contribution of additional singers from Berlin, performed the works of contemporary Israeli and Jewish composers, along with an unfinished composition by Gideon Klein, a composer who was killed during the Holocaust. With the gracious participation of conductor Gisele Ben Dor, this unique program was performed and filmed at the House of the Wannsee Conference and Educational Site. This is the first time in the Memorial’s history, that a project of this kind has been allowed inside the Wannsee Villa conference room.
Our project takes its name from the Wannsee Conference, a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on January 20, 1942. The purpose of this conference was to inform the heads of German Government Departments which had responsibility for various policies relating to Jews, of the "Final Solution to the Jewish question", to obtain their agreement and to subordinate their activities to the official German State policy. In essence, this was the meeting at which the Final Solution was ratified and put into motion as state policy.
"The Wannsee Recordings" were performed on the same day (January 20th, 2009), took place in the same room, and in it’s edited form will be the same duration (approximately 80 minutes) as the infamous Wannsee conference. This was not meant as historical irony, nor simply as a measure of revenge or justice. Rather, it was meant to be a forceful assertion by these composers and musicians, of not being absent from history, but being an active participant in the making of this world.
Just as the choice of the location and the date of the concert was not a coincidence, so is the choice of the music for its originality, diversity, daring and haunting beauty. From Gideon Klein, who explored modernism, to Arie Shapira, an avant-garde Israeli composer controversial in his own country, to Israeli composers Ayal Adler, and Joseph Bardanashvili, who meet these new musical paradigms on their own terms, the Wannsee Recordings, are above all a concrete expression of the diversity of Jewish life, and the richness of contemporary music today. One would not expect to find the music of Arie Shapira, and Josef Bardanashvili or Ernest Bloch and Alexander Tamir on the same program. Our choice in selecting these pieces, whose diversity may seem extreme, was not to create a program which only explored the edges, but to create a space which would allow each composition the necessary room it needs to take its unique form.
"The Wannsee Recordings" was made possible through the generous contributions of the Goethe Institute, The House of the Wannsee Memorial and Educational Site, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel Ministry of Science, Culture and Sports, The Ziering Family Foundation, Adriana Saltzman, Doris Arkin, Gisele Ben Dor, The Goldrich Family Foundation, Skywalker Sound, Technicolor and Dolby Laboratories, along with many other individuals and institutions.
"Am Grossen Wannsee - The Wannsee Recordings" was selected by special invitation to be shown at the 2010 Berlnale's European Film Market, official selection of the 12th Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival, a Selected Feature at the New Filmmakers Series at the Anthology Film Archives in New York, 2010, and won the Silver Palm for Best Documentary at the 2010 Mexico International Film Festival.