Tuesday, May 28

Fran & Flora: Synagogue Nights – Manchester Jewish Museum

Experimental folk duo, Fran & Flora, kickstart the latest season of Synagogue Nights at Manchester Jewish Museum with Contemporary Diaspora Sounds, drawing upon music from Unfurl, their 2019 debut album, and their upcoming second album due for release in 2024.

Having freshly arrived from Romania that morning, this was cellist Francesca Ter-Berg and violinist Flora Curzon’s first performance in Manchester as well as their first at a Sephardic synagogue. Drawing inspiration from their travels in eastern Europe and beyond, their work pulls upon the melodies of Klezmer, influences from Transylvania, Romania, Greece, and Armenia and archival manuscript and recordings.

Providing us with an array of musical pieces, we moved between traditional Klezmer and the Doina’s of Transylvania and Romania, in interpretative pieces that have been evolved by the duo from archival manuscripts and recordings which they regularly research and explore, and since there is often no available recording, just some handwritten melodies without chords, this is very much the sounds of the Diaspora for contemporary times, this isn’t just music to be listened to, these are stories to be felt.

There was good interaction with an eclectic audience which included the Museum’s songwriting group who had workshopped with Francesca a few weeks earlier and were able to lead us in providing supporting harmonies across some of the pieces which were in turn emotional and moving yet importantly full of hope: in these challenging times it was only right that there was a focus on peace and love. Like the music on offer tonight, we are perhaps more interwoven and interconnected than we perhaps like to let on.

String duo Fran & Flora was born out of a deep friendship, musical bond and shared interests in traditional music, improvisation and sense of adventure. For further details head to https://franandflora.com/

Synagogue Nights is a series of atmospheric evenings in the unique setting of an 1874 Spanish and Portuguese synagogue whose acoustics lend themselves perfectly for intimate musical nights such as this one. Upcoming events include:

29th October: Journey into Jewish Song with James Nissen

9th November: ‘Kravitz, Cohen, Bernstein, and Me’ by Deb Filler

16th November: Noga Ritter Trio

26th November: Becoming Nigella

3rd December: Out of Exile – the Photography of Fred Stein

For booking details, please refer to https://www.manchesterjewishmuseum.com/whats-on/

With events scheduled to start at7pm, doors open from 6pm and I highly recommend an early arrival to take advantage of the wonderful culinary delights the on-site café has to offer with its own contemporary vegetarian kosher-style menu using local produce and authentic Jewish and vegetarian ingredients.

Reviewer: Mark Davoren

Reviewed: 22nd October 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.