Songs For The Breathing Walls

This article was first published as “Musical tour creates poignant historical echo in Czech Republic’s synagogues” in The Times of Israel.

Lenka Lichtenberg at the Old Synagogue in Plzen (Pilsen) (Photo credit: Romana Rysava)

It’s unusual for a mid-career artist to declare a recent project “the most important thing I will ever do.”

But that’s precisely how Czech-born singer Lenka Lichtenberg feels about “Songs for the Breathing Walls,” a collection of mainly Jewish liturgical pieces she recorded in 12 Czech synagogues. The album’s North American release this week coincides with Friday-Saturday’s 74th anniversary of Kristallnacht, during which some of these synagogues were damaged or destroyed.

With two nominations at this month’s Canadian Folk Music Awards, it’s evident that Lichtenberg isn’t alone in thinking the album is remarkable. “Lenka Lichtenberg is a unique artist, and this album is a unique project,” says Grit Laskin, a member of the CFMA board of directors.

The praise she’s receiving is the end result of what Lichtenberg recently called her 2009 “moment of epiphany.”

“I was on a bus on the way back to Prague after giving concerts in synagogues in Plzen [Pilsen] and Liberec,” she said in a recent phone interview with The Times of Israel. “I was half-asleep, but I was musing on the interesting comparison between singing at the Plzen synagogue, which is derelict, and at the Liberec one, which is completely renovated. How could I capture the difference between the two experiences?”

Click here to read more.

© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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